Endoscopic urethrotomy versus open urethroplasty for men with bulbar urethral stricture: the OPEN randomised trial cost-effectiveness analysis

Jing Shen, Luke Vale* (Corresponding Author), Beatriz Goulao, Paul Whybrow, Stephen Payne, Nick Watkin, OPEN trial investigators

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Bulbar urethral stricture is a common cause for urinary symptoms in men and its two main treatment options both have drawbacks with little evidence on their relative cost-effectiveness. Current guidelines on the management of recurrent bulbar urethral stricture have been predominantly based on expert opinion and panel consensus.

OBJECTIVE: To assess the relative cost-effectiveness of open urethroplasty and endoscopic urethrotomy as treatment for recurrent urethral stricture in men.

METHODS: Set in the UK National Health Service with recruitment from 38 hospital sites, a randomised controlled trial of open urethroplasty and endoscopic urethrotomy with 6-monthly follow-up over 24 months was conducted. Two hundred and twenty-two men requiring operative treatment for recurrence of bulbar urethral stricture and having had at least one previous intervention for stricture were recruited. Effectiveness was measured by quality- adjusted life years (QALYs) derived from EQ-5D 5L. Cost-effectiveness was measured by the incremental cost per QALY gained over 24 months using a within trial analysis and a Markov model with a 10-year time horizon.

RESULTS: In the within trial, urethroplasty cost on average more than urethrotomy (cost difference: £2148 [95% CI 689, 3606]) and resulted in a similar number of QALYs on average (QALY difference: - 0.01 [95% CI - 0.17, 0.14)] over 24 months. The Markov model produced similar results. Sensitivity analyses using multiple imputation, suggested that the results were robust, despite observed missing data.

CONCLUSIONS: Based on current practice and evidence, urethrotomy is a cost-effective treatment compared with urethroplasty.

KEYPOINTS: Urethrotomy and urethroplasty both led to symptom improvement for men with bulbar urethral stricture-a common cause for urinary symptoms in men; Urethroplasty appeared unlikely to offer good value for money compared to urethrotomy based on current evidence.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: ISRCTN: 98009168 (date: 29 November 2012) and it is also in the UK NIHR Portfolio (reference 13507). Trial protocol: The latest version (1.8) of the full protocol is available at: www.journalslibrary.nihr.ac.uk/programmes/hta/105723/ #/ and a published version is also available: Stephenson R, Carnell S, Johnson N, Brown R, Wilkinson J, Mundy A, et al. Open urethroplasty versus endoscopic urethrotomy-clarifying the management of men with recurrent urethral stricture (the OPEN trial): study protocol for a randomised controlled trial. Trials 2015;16:600. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13063-015-1120-4. Trial main clinical results publication: Goulao B, Carnell S, Shen J, MacLennan G, Norrie J, Cook J, et al. Surgical Treatment for Recurrent Bulbar Urethral Stricture: A Randomised Open-label Superiority Trial of Open Urethroplasty Versus Endoscopic Urethrotomy (the OPEN Trial), European Urology, Volume 78, Issue 4, 2020, Pages 572-580.

Original languageEnglish
Article number76
Number of pages10
JournalBMC Urology
Publication statusPublished - 3 May 2021


  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Economic model
  • Randomised controlled trial
  • Urethral stricture
  • Urethroplasty
  • Urethrotomy

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