Introduction: Effective medical dissolution therapy (MDT) for uric acid stones is more cost-effective than surgical treatment; however, treatment failure may be associated with increased cost. We aimed to study the cost-effectiveness of MDT for uric acid stones vs. surgical management. Methods: We performed a retrospective study within our institution of all patients receiving MDT for uric acid stones from 2008–2019. All patients had a known history of uric acid stones, urine pH ≤5.5, and <500 Hounsfield units on preoperative computed tomography (CT). The cost of treatment in the dissolution group was compared to the cost of primary surgical treatment in a theoretical matched cohort. Cost was estimated using local Medicare reimbursement scales. Statistical analysis was performed with SPSS Statistics. Results: A total of 28 patients were identified, of which 18 were included in the study. Complete and partial dissolution occurred in six (33%) and four (22%) patients, respectively. Five (28%) patients developed symptoms and underwent ureteral stent placement. Ureteroscopy and percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL) were each performed in three (17%) patients in whom dissolution treatment was not effective on followup CT. Following dissolution trial, six (33%) patients had residual stone burden requiring surgical intervention. The average cost of treatment, including surgeries was $14 604 in the dissolution group vs. $17 680 in the surgical cohort. The average cost to achieve stone-free status in patients with complete, partial or no response to dissolution were $1675, $10 124, and $21 584, respectively, while primary surgical treatment for the same patients would cost $15 037, $10 901, and $20 511, respectively. Conclusions: Successful MDT is highly cost-effective. Incomplete response to dissolution can stem from several reasons and contributes to higher costs and likely decreased quality of life.
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