Lifetime Cost and Quality-Adjusted Life-Years Across Management Options for Small- and Medium-Sized Sporadic Vestibular Schwannoma

Robert J. MacIelak, Viengneesee Thao, Bijan J. Borah, James P. Moriarty, John P. Marinelli, Jamie J. Van Gompel, Matthew L. Carlson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective:Despite the growing emphasis on healthcare costs, limited data address this aspect of care within the vestibular schwannoma (VS) literature. We sought to determine which strategy confers the lowest lifetime cost and greatest quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) for patients with small- to medium-sized sporadic VS tumors.Study Design:A Markov model was created to determine the most cost-effective management algorithm. Tumor characteristics, magnetic resonance imaging surveillance schedule, treatment outcomes, and health-related quality of life values were derived from previously published data. Cost estimates were based on CMS Fee Schedule reimbursement rates.Setting:Economic Evaluation Service within the Kern Center for the Science of Healthcare Delivery.Patients:Patients diagnosed with small- to medium-sized sporadic VS.Interventions:Upfront microsurgery following diagnosis, upfront radiosurgery following diagnosis, observation with microsurgery reserved for observed tumor growth, and observation with radiosurgery reserved for observed tumor growth.Results:Across patient ages at time of diagnosis ranging from 18 to 70 years, observation with subsequent radiosurgery used for tumor growth was the most cost-effective management algorithm while upfront microsurgery was the least. When presented with a hypothetical 50-year-old patient, the strategy with the lowest lifetime cost and highest QALYs was observation with subsequent radiosurgery reserved for tumor growth ($32,161, 14.11 QALY), followed by observation with microsurgery reserved for tumor growth ($34,503, 13.94 QALY), upfront radiosurgery ($43,456, 14.02 QALY), and lastly, upfront microsurgery ($47,252, 13.60 QALY). Sensitivity analyses varying mortality rates, estimated costs, health-related quality of life, and progression to nonserviceable hearing demonstrated consistent ranking among treatments.Conclusions:When considering initial management of small- and medium-sized sporadic VSs, neither lifetime cost nor QALYs support upfront microsurgery or radiosurgery, even for younger patients. Initial observation with serial imaging, reserving radiosurgery or microsurgery for patients exhibiting tumor growth, confers the greatest potential for optimized lifetime healthcare cost and QALY outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E1369-E1375
JournalOtology and Neurotology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Oct 1 2021


  • Acoustic neuroma
  • Conservative management
  • Cost
  • Healthcare
  • Microsurgery
  • Observation
  • Quality-adjusted life-years
  • Quality-of-life
  • Radiosurgery
  • Vestibular schwannoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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