Long-lasting low back pain is an increasing problem, and for some patients surgery is the final option for improvement. Several techniques for spinal fusion are available and the optimal technique remains uncertain. The objective of this study was to assess the cost-effectiveness and cost-utility of transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) compared to posterolateral instrumented fusion (PLF) from the societal perspective.
100 Patients were randomized to TLIF or PLF (51/49) and followed for 2 years. Cost data were acquired from national registers, and outcomes were measured using the Oswestry Disability Index and SF-6D questionnaires. Conventional cost-effectiveness methodology was employed to estimate net benefit and to illustrate cost-effectiveness acceptability curves. The statistical analysis was based on means and bootstrapped confidence intervals.
Results showed no statistically significant difference in either cost or effects although a tendency for the TLIF regimen being more costly on bed days (€2,554) and production loss (€1,915) was observed. The probability that TLIF would be cost-effective did not exceed 30 % for any threshold of willingness to pay per quality-adjusted life year. Sensitivity analysis was conducted and supported the statistical model for handling of missing data.
TLIF does not seem to be a relevant alternative to PLF from a socioeconomic, societal point of view.