Open Access Open Badges Research article

Cost-effectiveness analysis of timely dialysis referral after renal transplant failure in Spain

Guillermo Villa12*, Emilio Sánchez-Álvarez3, Jesús Cuervo1, Lucía Fernández-Ortiz1, Pablo Rebollo1 and Francisco Ortega23

Author Affiliations

1 BAP LA-SER Outcomes, LA-SER Group, Azcárraga, 12 A, 33010, Oviedo, Asturias, Spain

2 Department of Medicine, Universidad de Oviedo, Oviedo, Spain

3 Department of Nephrology, Hospital Universitario Central de Asturias, Oviedo, Spain

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BMC Health Services Research 2012, 12:257  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-12-257

Published: 16 August 2012



A cost-effectiveness analysis of timely dialysis referral after renal transplant failure was undertaken from the perspective of the Public Administration. The current Spanish situation, where all the patients undergoing graft function loss are referred back to dialysis in a late manner, was compared to an ideal scenario where all the patients are timely referred.


A Markov model was developed in which six health states were defined: hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis, kidney transplantation, late referral hemodialysis, late referral peritoneal dialysis and death. The model carried out a simulation of the progression of renal disease for a hypothetical cohort of 1,000 patients aged 40, who were observed in a lifetime temporal horizon of 45 years. In depth sensitivity analyses were performed in order to ensure the robustness of the results obtained.


Considering a discount rate of 3 %, timely referral showed an incremental cost of 211 €, compared to late referral. This cost increase was however a consequence of the incremental survival observed. The incremental effectiveness was 0.0087 quality-adjusted life years (QALY). When comparing both scenarios, an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of 24,390 €/QALY was obtained, meaning that timely dialysis referral might be an efficient alternative if a willingness-to-pay threshold of 45,000 €/QALY is considered. This result proved to be independent of the proportion of late referral patients observed. The acceptance probability of timely referral was 61.90 %, while late referral was acceptable in 38.10 % of the simulations. If we however restrict the analysis to those situations not involving any loss of effectiveness, the acceptance probability of timely referral was 70.10 %, increasing twofold that of late referral (29.90 %).


Timely dialysis referral after graft function loss might be an efficient alternative in Spain, improving both patients’ survival rates and health-related quality of life at an affordable cost. Spanish Public Health authorities might therefore promote the inclusion of specific recommendations for this group of patients within the existing clinical guidelines.

Chronic kidney disease; Cost-effectiveness analysis; Timely dialysis referral; Graft function loss; Kidney transplantation; Late dialysis referral; Markov models; Renal replacement therapy; Transplant failure