Markov model compared the following surveillance EMB strategies to baseline strategy of stopping EMB 12 months post-HT: (1) every 4 months during year 2 post-HT, (2) every 6 months during year 2, (3) every 4 months for years 2 to 3, and (4) every 6 months for years 2 to 3. Patients entered the model 12 months post-HT and were followed until 36 months. In all strategies, patients had EMB with symptoms; in biopsy strategies after 12 months, EMB was also performed as scheduled regardless of symptoms. One-way and Monte Carlo sensitivity analyses were performed. Stopping EMB at 12 months was dominant (more effective, less costly), saving $2884 per patient compared with the next best strategy (every 6 months for year 2) and gaining 0.0011 quality-adjusted life-years. Increasing the annual risk of asymptomatic rejection in years 2 to 3 from previously reported 2.5% to 8.5% resulted in the biopsy every 6 months for year 2 strategy gaining 0.0006 quality-adjusted life-years, but cost $4 913 599 per quality-adjusted life-year gained. EMB for 12 months was also no longer dominant when mortality risk from untreated asymptomatic rejection approached 11%; competing strategies still cost >$200 000 per quality-adjusted life-year as that risk approached 99%.
Surveillance EMB for 12 months post-HT is more effective and less costly than EMB performed after 12 months, unless risks of asymptomatic cellular rejection and its mortality are strikingly higher than previously observed.
Despite low risk of late rejection after heart transplant (HT), surveillance endomyocardial biopsies (EMBs) are often continued for years. We assessed the cost-effectiveness of routine EMB after 12 months post-HT.