A decision analysis of treatments for nonobstructive azoospermia associated with varicocele

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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Objective: To examine the economic impact of initial treatments for varicocele-associated nonobstructive azoospermia, specifically varicocelectomy versus microsurgical testicular sperm extraction (TESE) with IVF/intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). Design: Decision analytic model based on 1) outcomes data from Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) database and peer-reviewed literature and 2) costing data from Medicare Resource-Based Relative Value Scale and sampling of high volume US IVF centers. Setting: Academic medical center. Patient(s): Simulation with a decision analytic model. Intervention(s): Variation of successful spontaneous live delivery after varicocelectomy versus rate of successful live delivery after IVF/ICSI. Main Outcome Measure(s): Cost-effectiveness. Result(s): Microsurgical TESE was more cost effective than varicocelectomy. In 1999, initial treatment with microsurgical TESE was more cost effective ($65,515) than varicocelectomy ($76,878). Relative cost-effectiveness was unchanged in 2005: $69,731 versus $79,576. The cost-effectiveness of both treatments improved in relation to projections by inflation. Sensitivity analyses suggest that the relative cost-effectiveness of TESE versus varicocelectomy can only be changed with either substantial improvement in spontaneous live delivery rates after varicocelectomy or with deterioration in IVF success rates. Conclusion(s): Microsurgical TESE appears to be more cost effective than varicocelectomy for treatment of varicocele-associated nonobstructive azoospermia when indirect costs are considered. The cost-effectiveness of both treatments has improved with time. These results may be tailored with institution-specific data to allow more individualized results.