Cost of a quality-adjusted life year in liver transplantation: The influence of the indication and the model for end-stage liver disease score



Cost issues in liver transplantation (LT) have received increasing attention, but the cost-utility is rarely calculated. We compared costs per quality-adjusted life year (QALY) from the time of placement on the LT waiting list to 1 year after transplantation for 252 LT patients and to 5 years after transplantation for 81 patients. We performed separate calculations for chronic liver disease (CLD), acute liver failure (ALF), and different Model for End-Stage Liver Disease (MELD) scores. For the estimation of QALYs, the health-related quality of life was measured with the 15D instrument. The median costs and QALYs after LT were €141,768 and 0.895 for 1 year and €177,618 and 3.960 for 5 years, respectively. The costs of the first year were 80% of the 5-year costs. The main cost during years 2 to 5 was immunosuppression drugs (59% of the annual costs). The cost/QALY ratio improved from €158,400/QALY at 1 year to €44,854/QALY at 5 years, and the ratio was more beneficial for CLD patients (€42,500/QALY) versus ALF patients (€63,957/QALY) and for patients with low MELD scores versus patients with high MELD scores. Although patients with CLD and MELD scores > 25 demonstrated markedly higher 5-year costs (€228,434) than patients with MELD scores < 15 (€169,541), the cost/QALY difference was less pronounced (€59,894/QALY and €41,769/QALY, respectively). The cost/QALY ratio for LT appears favorable, but it is dependent on the assessed time period and the severity of the liver disease. Liver Transpl 17:1333–1343, 2011. © 2011 AASLD.