Robotic-Assisted vs Nonrobotic-Assisted Minimally Invasive Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion: A Cost-Utility Analysis

Neurosurgery 90:192–198, 2022

Management of degenerative disease of the spine has evolved to favor minimally invasive techniques, including nonrobotic-assisted and robotic-assisted minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (MIS-TLIF). Value-based spending is being increasingly implemented to control rising costs in the US healthcare system. With an aging population, it is fundamental to understand which procedure(s) may be most cost-effective.

OBJECTIVE: To compare robotic and nonrobotic MIS-TLIF through a cost-utility analysis.

METHODS: We considered direct medical costs related to surgical intervention and to the hospital stay, as well as 1-yr utilities. We estimated costs by assessing all cases involving adults undergoing robotic surgery at a single institution and an equal number of patients undergoing nonrobotic surgery, matched by demographic and clinical characteristics. We adopted a willingness to pay of $50 000/quality-adjusted life year (QALY). Uncertainty was addressed by deterministic and probabilistic sensitivity analyses.

RESULTS: Costs were estimated based on a total of 76 patients, including 38 undergoing robot-assisted and 38 matched patients undergoing nonrobot MIS-TLIF. Using point estimates, robotic surgery was projected to cost $21 546.80 and to be associated with 0.68 QALY, and nonrobotic surgery was projected to cost $22 398.98 and to be associated with 0.67 QALY. Robotic surgery was found to be more cost-effective strategy, with costeffectiveness being sensitive operating room/materials and room costs. Probabilistic sensitivity analysis identified robotic surgery as cost-effective in 63% of simulations.

CONCLUSION: Our results suggest that at a willingness to pay of $50 000/QALY, robotic assisted MIS-TLIF was cost-effective in 63% of simulations. Cost-effectiveness depends on operating room and room (admission) costs, with potentially different results under distinct neurosurgical practices.