Cost-Effectiveness of Quantitative Magnetic Resonance Angiography Screening and Submaximal Angioplasty for Symptomatic Vertebrobasilar Disease [Original Contributions]

Background and Purpose—The VERiTAS (Vertebrobasilar Flow Evaluation and Risk of Transient Ischemic Attack and Stroke) study demonstrated posterior circulation distal flow status, determined by quantitative magnetic resonance angiography, is a robust predictor of vertebrobasilar stroke risk in patients with symptomatic atherosclerotic vertebrobasilar disease. Flow-compromised high-risk patients may benefit from flow-restoring endovascular procedures, such as submaximal angioplasty. In this study, we examine the cost-effectiveness of quantitative magnetic resonance angiography screening to identify patients who may benefit from submaximal angioplasty to restore vertebrobasilar flow.Methods—A Markov model was created comparing a no screening strategy with standard medical management alone and a screening strategy involving quantitative magnetic resonance angiography imaging and submaximal angioplasty for treatable patients with low vertebrobasilar flow for a 30-year time horizon. Outcomes included quality-adjusted life years (QALY) and lifetime costs. Rates of stroke and death were obtained from VERiTAS data, and disability rates and costs were derived from VERiTAS and the literature. A sensitivity analysis was performed with periprocedural stroke rate from angioplasty the primary variable of interest.Results—At a 6% periprocedural stroke risk, the screening strategy saved an average of 0.364 QALYs per patient and a lifetime cost savings of $7312 versus the no screening strategy. Among patients with low flow suitable for intervention, the benefit was substantially higher, averaging 1.485 QALYs saved and lifetime cost savings of $21 294. Across the entire cohort, QALY savings were observed at the end of the first year and economic savings at year 6. The benefit of screening declined at higher periprocedural risk.Conclusions—Quantitative magnetic resonance angiography screening and submaximal angioplasty with 6% periprocedural risk in suitable patients are cost effective both in terms of QALY and lifetime costs for patients with symptomatic vertebrobasilar occlusive disease. With potential health and economic savings, a clinical trial examining the periprocedural risk of submaximal angioplasty is warranted.Clinical Trial Registration—URL: Unique identifier: NCT00590980.