Journal of Neurology

, Volume 262, Issue 5, pp 1191–1197 | Cite as

Deep brain stimulation for Alzheimer disease: a decision and cost-effectiveness analysis

  • Keyvan Mirsaeedi-Farahani
  • C. H. Halpern
  • G. H. Baltuch
  • D. A. Wolk
  • S. C. Stein
Original Communication


Alzheimer disease (AD) is characterized by impairments in memory function. Standard AD treatment provides marginal improvements in this domain. Recent reports, however, suggested that deep brain stimulation (DBS) may result in improved memory. Given significant equipment costs and health expenses required for DBS surgery, we determine clinical and economic thresholds required for it to be as effective as standard AD treatment. Literature review yielded annual AD progression probabilities, health-related quality of life (QoL), and costs by AD stage. Our 5-year decision analysis model compared cumulative QoL in quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) and costs of standard therapy to theoretical DBS treatment of various success rates, using known complication rates and QoL data. The base case was a patient with mild-stage AD. DBS success was defined as regression to and maintenance of minimal stage AD, which was defined as midway between mild and no dementia, for the first year, and continuation of the natural course of AD for the remaining 4 years. Compared to standard treatment alone, DBS for mild-stage AD requires a success rate of 3 % to overcome effects of possible surgical complications on QoL. If DBS can be delivered with success rates above 20 % ($200 K/QALY) or 74 % ($50 K/QALY) for mild AD, it can be considered cost-effective. Above a success rate of 80 %, DBS treatment is both clinically more effective and more cost-effective than standard treatment. Our findings demonstrate that clinical and economic thresholds required for DBS to be cost-effective for AD are relatively low.


Alzheimer’s disease Cost-effectiveness/economic Decision analysis Harm/risk (analysis) Deep brain stimulation 



We would like to thank Dr Murray Grossman for his invaluable contributions to the design of the virtual clinical trial conducted.

Conflicts of interest

David Wolk has declared his current participation in a clinical trial sponsored by Functional Neuromodulation, Ltd in the study of deep brain stimulation in AD. None of the other authors have any conflict of interests to declare.

Ethical standard

No patients were engaged to obtain data for this study. As a result, no informed consent was needed or obtained by the Ethics Committee of the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 13 kb)
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Supplementary material 3 (TIFF 192 kb)
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Supplementary material 4 (TIFF 871 kb)
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Supplementary material 5 (TIFF 263 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Keyvan Mirsaeedi-Farahani
    • 1
  • C. H. Halpern
    • 2
  • G. H. Baltuch
    • 3
  • D. A. Wolk
    • 4
  • S. C. Stein
    • 3
  1. 1.Perelman School of MedicineUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Department of NeurosurgeryStanford University Medical CenterStanfordUSA
  3. 3.Department of NeurosurgeryUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  4. 4.Department of NeurologyUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA

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