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Study: Kidney angioplasty brings risks, no benefit


4 Star

Study: Kidney angioplasty brings risks, no benefit

Our Review Summary

This is another study – of which there have been several notable ones recently – that shows that newer isn’t always better in health care.

As Yale’s Harlan Krumholz said in a key quote in this story, "What’s remarkable is that this procedure got so popular and adopted into widespread use before a study like this was conducted to show us what its value may be."  

Overall, the AP story did a good job.  It could have been improved by: 

  • providing at least a ballpark estimate of costs, instead of just calling the angioplasty a "pricey procedure"
  • providing some data on how "benefit" was measured. So how well do medications work? What were the rates of death, heart attack, stroke, heart failure, etc.? The story didn’t tell us.


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The story refers to kidney angioplasty as a "pricey procedure" but offers no ballpark estimates of what that means.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

While the story included the important statement from one researcher that "There really was no benefit," the story nonethless never gave any data on how "benefit" was measured. Or what the absolute data were for either treatment group.  So how well do medications work? What were the rates of death, heart attack, stroke, heart failure, etc.? The story didn’t tell us.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?


The story provided absolute numbers of harms in the angioplasty group within the first month after treatment.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?


The story provided an adequate explanation of the nature of the evidence.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


The story provides National Kidney Foundation estimates of the scope of the problem.


Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?


3 different independent sources were quoted.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?


The story was about different treatment options for blocked kidney arteries.  And it did an adequate job presenting the data comparing the options.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


The story gives an estimate of how widely kidney angioplasty is used.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


A kidney foundation spokesman said this report was "the first hint" that medication may produce equal results to angioplasty.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?


Given that several sources were interviewed, it is unlikely that the story relied solely or largely on a news release.

Total Score: 8 of 10 Satisfactory


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