Background and Purpose—
The aim of this study was to determine the cost-effectiveness of tissue-type plasminogen activator (tPA) treatment in the 3- to 4.5-hour time window after ischemic stroke.
Decision-analytic and Markov state-transition models were created to determine the cost-effectiveness of treatment of ischemic stroke patients with intravenous tPA administered in the 3- to 4.5-hour time window compared with medical therapy without tPA. Health benefits were measured in quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs). The economic outcome measure of the model was the difference in estimated healthcare costs between the 2 treatment alternatives. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio was calculated by dividing the cost difference by the difference in QALYs. One-way sensitivity and probabilistic analyses were performed to test the robustness of the model.
The administration of tPA compared with standard medical therapy resulted in a lifetime gain of 0.28 QALYs for an additional cost of $6050, yielding an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of $21 978 per QALY. One-way sensitivity analyses demonstrated that the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio was most sensitive to the cost of hospitalization for patients who received tPA. Based on probabilistic analysis, there is an 88% probability that tPA is the preferred treatment at a willingness-to-pay threshold of $50 000 per QALY.
The balance of costs and benefits favors treatment with intravenous tPA in the 3- to 4.5-hour time window. This supports, from a societal perspective, the use of tPA therapy in this treatment time window for acute ischemic stroke.