Today's News

Saturday, March 3, 2001

ACI lowers costs in long run, according to study

Articular cartilage injuries are a common cause of disability and result in substantial medical and nonmedical costs. Traditional treatments may result in reduced functional capacity and inability to return to work.

A recent report with 10-year follow-up indicates that autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI) restores function in 85 percent of patients, however, ACI has additional direct medical costs due to the expense of cell culturing. An analysis in poster exhibit 157 finds that for workers with articular cartilage injuries of the knee, ACI results in a similar rate of return to work at an average net cost savings of $15,000 per patient, compared to patients not treated with ACI

Patients undergoing ACI were followed using the claims management system of a single workers' compensation insurer. Direct medical and nonmedical (e.g., wages) costs and return-to-work status were collected. Patients were followed from initiation of treatment until closure of the claim (return to work or settlement). These results were compared to a 3-1 matched control group of similar patients not treated with ACI.

Twenty-four patients (19 male and 5 female) treated with ACI were followed to claim closure. Mean age was 35 (range: 24-48). Occupations ranged from light to heavy labor. Overall 71 percent returned to work. Total medical costs in the ACI group averaged $90,235 per patient; indemnity costs averaged $64,704. This compared to 83 percent return to work (p=0.24), medical costs of $80,407 (p<0.001) and indemnity costs of $89,226 (<0.001) in the control group.

Coauthors are Adam L. Seidner, Hartford, Conn.; and Kenneth R. Zaslav, MD, Richmond, Va.

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Last modified 16/February/2001 by IS