Is ambulatory monitoring for "community-acquired" syncope economically attractive? A cost-effectiveness analysis of a randomized trial of external loop recorders versus Holter monitoring

Marie Antoinette Rockx, Jeffrey S Hoch, George J. Klein, Raymond Yee, Allan C. Skanes, Lorne J. Gula, Andrew D. Krahn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

39 Scopus citations


Background: Out patient ambulatory monitoring is often performed in patients with syncope that present in the primary care setting to include or exclude an arrhythmia. The cost-effectiveness of 2 monitoring strategies was assessed in a prospective randomized trial. Methods: One hundred patients referred for ambulatory monitoring with syncope or presyncope were randomized to a 1-month external loop recorder (n = 49) or 48-hour Holter monitor (n = 51). Patients were offered crossover if there was failed activation or no symptom recurrence. The primary end point was symptom-rhythm correlation during monitoring. Direct costs were calculated based on the 2003 Ontario Health Insurance Plan fee schedule, combined with calculation of labor, materials, service, and overhead for diagnostic testing and related equipment. Results: Before enrollment, the cost of all previous health care resource use was US$472 ± US$397 (range US$21-US$1965). In the loop recorder group, 63% of patients had symptom recurrence and successful activation, compared with 24% in the Holter group (P < .0001). The cost per Holter was US$177.64, and per loop recorder, US$533.56, with a similar cost per diagnosis with the 2 techniques. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of the loop recorder was US$901.74 per extra successful diagnosis. A strategy of Holter followed by offered loop recorder trended toward lower cost than initial loop recorder followed by Holter (US$481 ± US$267 vs US$551 ± US$83, P = .08), but was associated with a lower overall diagnostic yield (49% vs 63%) and a resultant higher cost per diagnosis (US$982 vs US$871, P = .08). Bootstrapping suggested that 90% of incremental cost-effectiveness ratios were less than US$1250. Conclusion: Despite the increased upfront cost of external loop recorders, the marked improvement in diagnostic yield offsets the cost. External loop recorders are an economically attractive alternative. First-line use of external loop recorders in patients with "community- acquired" syncope and presyncope should be considered to optimize diagnostic yield given its value.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Heart Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2005
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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