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Bronchoscopy |

Nd-YAG Laser vs Bronchoscopic Electrocautery for Palliation of Symptomatic Airway Obstruction*: A Cost-Effectiveness Study

Ton van Boxem, MD; Maike Muller; Ben Venmans, MD; Pieter Postmus, MD, PhD, FCCP; Tom Sutedja, MD, PhD, FCCP
Author and Funding Information

*From the Department of Pulmonary Medicine, University Hospital Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Correspondence to: Tom G. Sutedja, MD, PhD, FCCP, Department of Pulmonary Medicine, University Hospital Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, PO Box 7057, 1007 MB Amsterdam, The Netherlands; e-mail: tg.sutedja@azvu.nl



Chest. 1999;116(4):1108-1112. doi:10.1378/chest.116.4.1108
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Study objective: To evaluate the cost effectiveness of the Nd-YAG laser and bronchoscopic electrocautery for palliation in patients with symptomatic tumor obstruction.

Design: A retrospective study.

Setting: Bronchoscopy unit of a university hospital.

Patients and intervention: Thirty-one consecutive patients with inoperable non-small cell lung cancer and symptomatic intraluminal tumor underwent bronchoscopic treatment. Dyspnea relief was the primary goal of treatment. Fourteen patients were treated with the Nd-YAG laser and 17 patients with electrocautery.

Measurements and results: Improvement of symptoms was achieved in 70% of patients treated by either Nd-YAG laser or electrocautery. Mean ± SD survival was 8.0 ± 2.5 months after Nd-YAG laser treatment and 11.5 ± 3.5 months after electrocautery. The number of treatment sessions per patient was comparable: Nd-YAG laser, 1.1; electrocautery, 1.2. Duration of hospital stay was longer in patients treated with the Nd-YAG laser (8.4 vs 6.7 days). Average treatment costs, including admission charges, were $5,321 for the Nd-YAG laser and $4,290 for electrocautery. Higher costs in the group treated with the Nd-YAG laser were caused by a longer hospital stay before bronchoscopic treatment. Costs of equipment (electrocautery $6,701 and Nd-YAG laser $208,333), write-offs, maintenance, and repair were not included in this calculation.

Conclusion: Bronchoscopic electrocautery is equally effective but is a less expensive and, in our hospital, a more accessible modality than the Nd-YAG laser for symptomatic palliation of patients with intraluminal airway obstruction.


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