Background: Choledocholithiasis is commonly encountered. It is frequently managed with laparoscopic common bile duct exploration or endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (either preoperative, intraoperative, or postoperative relative to laparoscopic cholecystectomy). The purpose of this study is to determine the most cost-effective method to manage inpatient choledocholithiasis.
Methods: A decision tree model was created to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of laparoscopic common bile duct exploration and preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography. The primary outcome was incremental cost-effectiveness ratio with a ceiling willingness to pay threshold assumed of $100,000 per quality-adjusted life year. Model parameters were determined through review of published literature and institutional data. Costs were from the perspective of the healthcare system with a time horizon of 1 year. Sensitivity analyses were performed on model parameters.
Results: In the base case analysis, laparoscopic common bile duct exploration was cost-effective, resulting in 0.9909 quality-adjusted life years at an expected cost of $18,357. Intraoperative endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography yielded more quality-adjusted life years (0.9912) at a higher cost ($19,717) with an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of $4,789,025, exceeding the willingness to pay threshold. Both preoperative and postoperative endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatographies were eliminated for being both more costly and less effective. Laparoscopic common bile duct exploration remained cost-effective if the probability of successful biliary clearance was above 0.79, holding all other variables constant. If its base cost remained below $18,400 and intraoperative endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography base cost rose above $18,200, then laparoscopic common bile duct exploration remained cost-effective.
Conclusion: Laparoscopic common bile duct exploration is the most cost-effective method to manage choledocholithiasis. Efforts to ensure availability of local expertise and resources for this procedure are warranted.
Keywords: Biliary tract surgical procedures; Choledocholithiasis; Cost-effectiveness analysis; Decision analysis; Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography.