The Particulars: In recent years, hospitals have increasingly begun offering angioplasty in house as opposed to transferring patients to hospitals with emergency surgical back-up to perform such procedures. The cost-effectiveness of this strategy has not been examined in many published analyses.

Data Breakdown: A large, multi-center study analyzed the expenses of non-emergency angioplasty in hospitals that were either equipped or not equipped with cardiac surgery. At 9 months after treatment, the average cumulative medical costs for surgery-equipped hospitals were $23,991, compared with $25,460 for non-surgery hospitals. The authors noted that their observed differences were affected by requirements that non-surgery hospitals use ICUs for post-angioplasty care. The finding that patients treated in these hospitals were more likely to be readmitted within 9 months was another contributor.

Take Home Pearls: Costs associated with angioplasty appear to be higher at hospitals without emergency heart surgery back-up when compared with hospitals that have these resources. The higher costs for angioplasty at non–surgery-equipped hospitals appears to be driven by protocol requirements and increased readmission rates.