International Journal of Technology Assessment in Health Care

General Essays

Economic evaluation of continuous renal replacement therapy in acute renal failure

Scott Klarenbacha1, Braden Mannsa2, Neesh Pannua3, Fiona M. Clementa4, Natasha Wiebea5, Marcello Tonellia5 and For the Alberta Kidney Disease Network

a1 University of Alberta

a2 University of Calgary

a3 University of Alberta

a4 University of Calgary

a5 University of Alberta


Objectives: Controversy exists regarding the optimal method of providing dialysis in critically ill patients with acute renal failure. We sought to determine the cost-effectiveness of treatment strategies.

Methods: Adult subjects requiring renal replacement therapy in a critical care setting who are candidates for intermittent hemodialysis (IHD) or continuous renal replacement therapy (CRRT) were considered within a Markov model. Alternative strategies including IHD, and standard or high dose CRRT were compared. The model considered relevant clinical and economic outcomes, and incorporated data on clinical effectiveness from a recent systematic review and high quality micro-costing data.

Results: In the base-case analysis, CRRT was associated with similar health outcomes but higher costs by ($3,679 more than IHD per patient). In scenarios considering alternate cost sources, and higher intensity of IHD (including daily and longer duration IHD), CRRT remained more costly. Sensitivity analysis indicated that even small differences in the risk of mortality or need for long-term chronic dialysis therapy among surviving patients benefits led to dramatic changes in the cost-effectiveness of the modalities considered.

Conclusions: Given the higher costs of providing CRRT and absence of demonstrated benefit, IHD is the preferred modality in critically ill patients who are candidates for either IHD or CRRT, although this conclusion should be revisited if future clinical trials establish differences in clinical effectiveness between modalities. Future interventions that are proven to improve renal recovery after acute renal failure are likely to be cost-effective, even if very resource intensive.


This work was supported by the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technology in Health. Dr. Klarenbach is supported by a Scholarship Award from the Kidney Foundation of Canada. Drs. Klarenbach and Tonelli are supported by Population Health Investigator awards from Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research (AHFMR). Dr Clement is supported by a post-doctoral fellowship award from the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation and AHFMR. Dr. Manns and Tonelli are supported by a Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) New Investigator Award.