Are lower levels of red blood cell transfusion more cost-effective than liberal levels after cardiac surgery? Findings from the TITRe2 randomised controlled trial.
Stokes EA., Wordsworth S., Bargo D., Pike K., Rogers CA., Brierley RCM., Angelini GD., Murphy GJ., Reeves BC., TITRe2 Investigators None.
OBJECTIVE: To assess the incremental cost and cost-effectiveness of a restrictive versus a liberal red blood cell transfusion threshold after cardiac surgery. DESIGN: A within-trial cost-effectiveness analysis with a 3-month time horizon, based on a multicentre superiority randomised controlled trial from the perspective of the National Health Service (NHS) and personal social services in the UK. SETTING: 17 specialist cardiac surgery centres in UK NHS hospitals. PARTICIPANTS: 2003 patients aged >16 years undergoing non-emergency cardiac surgery with a postoperative haemoglobin of <9 g/dL. INTERVENTIONS: Restrictive (transfuse if haemoglobin <7.5 g/dL) or liberal (transfuse if haemoglobin <9 g/dL) threshold during hospitalisation after surgery. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Health-related quality of life measured using the EQ-5D-3L to calculate quality-adjusted life years (QALYs). RESULTS: The total costs from surgery up to 3 months were £17 945 and £18 127 in the restrictive and liberal groups (mean difference is -£182, 95% CI -£1108 to £744). The cost difference was largely attributable to the difference in the cost of red blood cells. Mean QALYs to 3 months were 0.18 in both groups (restrictive minus liberal difference is 0.0004, 95% CI -0.0037 to 0.0045). The point estimate for the base-case cost-effectiveness analysis suggested that the restrictive group was slightly more effective and slightly less costly than the liberal group and, therefore, cost-effective. However, there is great uncertainty around these results partly due to the negligible differences in QALYs gained. CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that there is no clear difference in the cost-effectiveness of restrictive and liberal thresholds for red blood cell transfusion after cardiac surgery. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: ISRCTN70923932; Results.