Cost-effectiveness of left ventricular-assist devices in end-stage heart failure

Julia Hutchinson, David A Scott, Andrew J Clegg, Emma Loveman, Pamela Lee Royle, Jackie Bryant, Jill L Colquitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


With a limited supply of donor hearts, individuals with end-stage heart failure have been offered hope through the use of mechanical devices. Left ventricular-assist devices (LVADs) are a technology designed to work in parallel with the heart but have yet to see widespread use since uncertainty remains as to the cost-effectiveness of this evolving new technology. We have systematically reviewed evidence of cost-effectiveness for LVADs in the bridge-to-transplant and long-term chronic support indications. A total of 18 studies reporting costs were identified. Of these, only four studies reported results in cost-effectiveness terms; two in cost per life-year saved and two in cost per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY). The majority of the other studies were simple cost summations (cost per day or incremental cost) without consideration of efficacy. In the bridge-to-transplant indication, a Danish abstract reported a cost per life-year saved of DKK270k (US$48,000), a UK study reported a cost per QALY of GB pound39,787 (US$78,000) and a Canadian study reported a cost per life-year saved of Can$91,332 (US$86,000). Regarding the long-term chronic support indication, the same Canadian study reported a cost per life-year saved of Can$59,842 (US$56,000), whereas a US study reported a cost per QALY of $36,255-60,057. Assuming a willingness to pay the threshold of GB pound30,000 (US$59,000) per QALY, there is arguably stronger evidence to support the cost-effectiveness of LVAD technology for the long-term chronic support indication. However, the methodological quality of the majority of studies was poor, as was their generalizability, raising concerns over the reliability of these figures. With the limited and declining availability of donor hearts for transplantation, it appears that the future of this technology is in its use as long-term chronic support. Further analyses should be undertaken, particularly alongside randomized, controlled trials and utilizing second- and third-generation devices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-185
Number of pages11
JournalExpert Review of Cardiovascular Therapy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2008


  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Health Care Costs
  • Heart Failure
  • Heart Ventricles
  • Heart-Assist Devices
  • Humans


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