Albumin Dialysis

Albumin dialysis in cirrhosis with superimposed acute liver injury: possible impact of albumin dialysis on hospitalization costs.

Hassanein T, Oliver D, Stange J, Steiner C

Liver Int. 2003 Jun;23 Suppl 3:61-5..

UCSD Medical Center, West Arbor Drive 200, San Diego, CA 92103, USA, and Institute of Hepatology, University College London, 69-75 Chenies Mews, London WC1E 6HX, UK.

Albumin dialysis using the Molecular Adsorbents Recirculating System (MARS) has been found to be beneficial in the treatment of cirrhotic patients with acute decompensation to improve survival as well as reduce associated complications. The present study attempts to analyze the costs involved, and compare it to the benefit as a result of the MARS therapy, thus evaluating its cost-effectiveness. Using the results of a study by Kim et al. (Hepatology 2001) describing the effects of complications on the cost of hospitalization in alcoholic liver disease patients, the expenditure incurred in a group of 11 patients treated with standard medical therapy (five survivors) and a group of 12 patients treated with MARS in addition (11 survivors) (Heemann et al., Hepatology 2002) were analyzed. MARS resulted in a reduction of in-hospital deaths, as well as liver disease-related complications. Both these factors led to a substantial reduction of costs in the MARS group, which was enough to counterbalance the extra costs associated with extra-corporeal therapy. In the control group, the total hospitalization cost per survivor were calculated to be at $35 904. In the MARS group, the overall expenditure per survivor including standard medical therapy plus additional MARS liver support therapy were $32 036 - a saving of nearly $4000 compared to the control group. Therefore, it appears that the benefits of MARS therapy are enough to justify the cost of treatment and safe hospital costs, at least in the described population. However, further studies are needed to confirm these results.