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Cost-effectiveness of an electroceutical device in treating non-healing venous leg ulcers: results of an RCT.

Authors: JF Guest, H Singh, K Rana, P Vowden.
Source: Journal of Wound Care 2018; 27(4): 230-243.


Objective:To estimate the cost-effectiveness of an externally applied electroceutical (EAE) device, Accel-Heal, in treating non-healing venous leg ulcers (VLUs) in the UK.

Method:This was a prospective, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multi-centre study of patients aged ?18 years with a non-healing VLU. Patients were randomised in the ratio of 1:1 to receive six units of the EAE (consisting of a self-contained, programmed electric microcurrent generator and two skin contact pads) or an identical-looking placebo device over 12 consecutive days. Patients were followed-up for 24 weeks from randomisation, during which time patients received wound care according to the local standard care pathway, completed health-related quality of life (HRQoL) instruments, and health-care resource use was measured. The cost-effectiveness of the EAE device was estimated at 2015/16 prices in those patients who fulfilled the study’s inclusion and exclusion criteria (economic analysis population).

Results:At 24 weeks after randomisation, 34% and 30% of VLUs in the EAE and placebo groups in the economic analysis population, respectively, had healed. The time-to-healing was a mean of 2.6 and 3.5 months in the EAE and placebo groups, respectively. The area of the wounds that healed in the EAE group was nearly twice that of those in the placebo group (mean: 13.3 versus 7.7cm2 per VLU). Additionally, the pre-randomised duration of the wounds that healed in the EAE group was double that of those in the placebo group (mean: 2.6 versus 1.2 years per VLU). By the end of the study, EAE-treated patients reported less pain, more social functioning and greater overall wellbeing/satisfaction than placebo-treated patients. None of these differences reached statistical significance, but they may be important to patients. There were no significant differences in health-care resource use between the two groups. The incremental cost per quality-adjusted life year (QALY) gained with the EAE device was £4480 at eight weeks, decreasing to £2265 at 16 weeks and ?£2388 (dominant) at 24 weeks. The study was confounded by unwarranted variation in patient management between centres and between individual clinicians within each centre.

Conclusion: Despite the unwarranted variation in the provision of wound care observed in this study, the use of the EAE device resulted in some improved clinical outcomes and patient-reported outcomes, for the same or less cost as standard care, by 24 weeks. Clinicians managing VLUs may wish to consider the findings from this study when making treatment decisions.

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