April 5, 2022

Cost of Pre-Surgical Evaluation for Epilepsy Surgery: A Single-Center Experience

Abstract found in PubMed

Objective: To estimate the cost and time taken to evaluate adults with drug-resistant focal epilepsy for potentially curative surgery.

Methods: We reviewed data on 100 consecutive individuals at a tertiary referral center evaluated for epilepsy surgery in 2017. The time elapsed between referral and either surgery or a definitive decision not to progress was measured. National Health Service tariffs applicable to our setting were used to estimate the total cost of evaluation for individuals following different routes through the pre-surgical pathway. After surgery, self-reported seizure freedom rates were obtained from each individual to assess the approximate cost of pre-surgical evaluation per additional person seizure-free.

Results: Of 100 individuals evaluated, 27 had surgery, 63 had a definitive decision not to have surgery, and ten were awaiting further investigations. The median duration of the pre-surgical evaluation was 29.7 months (IQR 18.6-44.1 months), with a median cost per person of £9138 (IQR £6984-£14,868). Those who proceeded to Stage Two investigations (including fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography, ictal single-photon emission computerized tomography and intracranial electroencephalography) had a higher cost and extended evaluation length. After a median of 3.1 (IQR 2.3-3.7) years, 15/27 people who had surgery were seizure-free. This equated to an approximate cost of £123,500 spent per additional person seizure-free.

Conclusion: Pre-surgical evaluation is long and costly, particularly for those who require icEEG. For those with drug-resistant focal epilepsy, surgery is, however, associated with a greater chance of seizure freedom. The suitability and risk-benefit ratio of surgery should be considered at each step of the pre-surgical pathway.