MEDICAL POLICY

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DESCRIPTION
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BENEFIT APPLICATION
RATIONALE
REFERENCES
CODING
APPENDIX
HISTORY

Radiofrequency Ablation of the Renal Sympathetic Nerves as a Treatment for Resistant Hypertension

Number 7.01.136

Effective Date November 20, 2014

Revision Date(s) 11/10/14; 11/11/13

Replaces N/A

Policy

Radiofrequency ablation of the renal sympathetic nerves is considered investigational for the treatment of resistant hypertension.

Related Policies

8.01.57

Baroreflex Stimulation Devices

Policy Guidelines

Coding

CPT

0338T

Transcatheter renal sympathetic denervation, percutaneous approach including arterial puncture, selective catheter placement(s) renal artery(ies), fluoroscopy, contrast injection(s), intraprocedural roadmapping and radiological supervision and interpretation, including pressure gradient measurements, flush aortogram and diagnostic renal angiography when performed; unilateral

0339T

bilateral

Description

Resistant hypertension

Hypertension is a widely prevalent condition, which is estimated to affect approximately 30% of the population in the United States.1 It accounts for a high burden of morbidity related to strokes, ischemic heart disease, kidney disease, and peripheral arterial disease. Resistant hypertension is defined as elevated blood pressure (BP), despite treatment with at least 3 antihypertensive agents at optimal doses. Resistant hypertension is also a relatively common condition, given the large number of individuals with hypertension. In large clinical trials of hypertension treatment, up to 20% to 30% of participants meet the definition for resistant hypertension, and in tertiary care hypertension clinics, the prevalence has been estimated to be 11% to 18%. (1) Resistant hypertension is associated with a higher risk for adverse outcomes such as stroke, myocardial infarction (MI), heart failure, and kidney failure.

There are a number of factors that may contribute to uncontrolled hypertension, and these should be considered and addressed in all patients with hypertension before labeling a patient resistant. These include non-adherence to medications, excessive salt intake, inadequate doses of medications, excess alcohol intake, volume overload, drug-induced hypertension, and other forms of secondary hypertension. (2) Also, sometimes it is necessary to address comorbid conditions, i.e., obstructive sleep apnea, to adequately control BP.

Treatment for resistant hypertension is mainly intensified drug therapy, sometimes with the use of non-traditional antihypertensive medications such as spironolactone and/or minoxidil. However, control of resistant hypertension with additional medications is often challenging and can lead to high costs and frequent adverse effects of treatment. As a result, there is a large unmet need for additional treatments that can control resistant hypertension. Non-pharmacologic interventions for resistant hypertension include modulation of the baroreflex receptor, and/or radiofrequency (RF) denervation of the renal nerves.

RF denervation of the renal sympathetic nerves

Increased sympathetic nervous system activity has been linked to essential hypertension. Surgical sympathectomy has been shown to be effective in reducing BP but is limited by the side effects of surgery and was largely abandoned after effective medications for hypertension became available. The renal sympathetic nerves arise from the thoracic nerve roots and innervate the renal artery, the renal pelvis, and the renal parenchyma. Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is thought to decrease both the afferent sympathetic signals from the kidney to the brain and the efferent signals from the brain to the kidney. This decreases sympathetic activation, decreases vasoconstriction, and decreases activation of the renin-angiotensin system.3

The procedure is performed percutaneously with access at the femoral artery. A flexible catheter is threaded into the renal artery and controlled energy source, most commonly low-power RF energy is delivered to the arterial walls where the renal sympathetic nerves are located. Once adequate RF energy has been delivered to ablate the sympathetic nerves, the catheter is removed.

Regulatory Status

No RFA devices have been approved for ablation of the renal sympathetic nerves as a treatment for hypertension. There are several devices that have been developed for this purpose and are in various stages of application for U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. The Symplicity™ renal denervation device (Medtronic Inc., Minneapolis, MN) consists of a flexible catheter that is specifically intended for use in the renal arteries, and an external power generator.

  • The EnligHTN™ multi-electrode renal denervation system (St. Jude Medical, Plymouth, MN) is an RFA catheter using a 4-point multiablation basket design. In January 2014, the EnligHTN™ Renal Guiding Catheter received clearance for marketing through the 510(k) process based on substantial equivalence to predicate devices (product code: DQY) for the following indication: percutaneous use through an introducer sheath to facilitate a pathway to introduce interventional and diagnostic devices into the renal arterial vasculature.
  • The One-Shot Renal Denervation System™ (Covidien, Dublin) is an irrigated RFA balloon catheter, consisting of a spiral shaped electrode surrounding a balloon that is intended to ablate using 1 application. On January 21, 2014, Covidien announced it will exit its OneShot Renal Denervation program.
  • The Vessix™ Renal Denervation System (Boston Scientific Marlborough, MA; formerly The V2 renal denervation system, Vessix Vascular) is a combination of a RF balloon catheter and bipolar RF generator technologies, intended to permit a lower voltage intervention.
  • The Thermocouple Catheter™ (Biosense Webster, Diamond Bar, CA) is an RFA catheter that is in clinical use for cardiac electrophysiology procedures, and also has been used for RFA of the renal arteries.

Scope

Medical policies are systematically developed guidelines that serve as a resource for Company staff when determining coverage for specific medical procedures, drugs or devices. Coverage for medical services is subject to the limits and conditions of the member benefit plan. Members and their providers should consult the member benefit booklet or contact a customer service representative to determine whether there are any benefit limitations applicable to this service or supply. This medical policy does not apply to Medicare Advantage.

Benefit Application

N/A

Rationale

This policy was created in July 2012 with literature update that covered the period of January 2000 through June 2012 and updated periodically with literature reviews, most recently through July 31, 2014.

This technology requires high-quality randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to demonstrate efficacy. This is due to the natural variability in blood pressure (BP), the heterogeneity of the patient populations with increased BP, and the presence of many potential confounders of outcome. A sham-controlled RCT is ideal, because it would also control for any placebo effects, or other non-specific effects of BP treatment. Case series have limited utility for determining efficacy. They can be useful for demonstrating potential of the technique, for determining the rate of short- and long-term adverse effects of treatment, and to evaluate the durability of the treatment response.

The literature review identified several RCTs, the largest of which compared renal denervation with sham control for patients with treatment-resistant hypertension. Several other smaller RCTs have also been conducted, 1 that compared renal denervation with standard care for patients with resistant hypertension, and a second that compared renal denervation plus cardiac ablation versus cardiac ablation alone for patients with resistant hypertension and atrial fibrillation. There were also a number of non-randomized controlled trials and case series. These relevant studies are reviewed next.

RCTs

SYMPLICITY HTN-3

Results of the Symplicity HTN-3 trial, a multicenter, single-blinded, randomized, sham-controlled trial of renal denervation were published in 2014. (4) Included patients had severe, resistant hypertension, with a systolic BP of 160 mm Hg or higher, on maximally tolerated doses of at least 3 antihypertensive medications of complementary classes, 1 of which had to be a diuretic at an appropriate dose. Five-hundred thirty-five patients were randomized to renal denervation with the Medtronic Symplicity renal denervation catheter or to renal angiography only (sham control).

Changes in antihypertensive medication were not allowed during the 6-month follow-up period unless they were considered to be clinically necessary. The primary efficacy end point was the mean change in office systolic BP from baseline to 6 months in the denervation group, compared with the mean change in the sham control group. The secondary efficacy end point was the change in mean 24-hour ambulatory systolic blood pressure at 6 months. The primary safety end point was a composite of major adverse events, defined as death from any cause, end stage renal disease, an embolic event resulting in end-organ damage, renal-artery or other vascular complications, or hypertensive crisis within 30 days or new renal-artery stenosis of more than 70% within 6 months.

At the 6-month follow-up point, there was no significant between-group difference in the change in office BP. There was a change in systolic BP (SBP) of −14.13±23.93 mm Hg in the denervation group versus −11.74±25.94 mm Hg in the sham control group, for a difference of −2.39 mm Hg (95% CI: −6.89 to 2.12; p=0.26 with a superiority margin of 5 mm Hg). At 6-month follow-up, the change in ambulatory BP was −6.75±15.11 mm Hg in the denervation group versus −4.79±17.25 mm Hg in the sham control group, for a difference of −1.96 mm Hg (95% CI: −4.97 to 1.06; p=0.98 with a superiority margin of 2 mm Hg). Major adverse event rates were similar between the denervation and control groups 1.4% and 0.6%, respectively).

Strengths of this study include its large size and blinded, sham-controlled design, which reduce the likelihood of a placebo effect. A limitation of the present publication is that the follow-up period reported is relatively short, leading to an underdetection of a treatment benefit differences between the groups manifest over time. The study subjects, including those who do not cross over to renal denervation, will be followed for 5 years to assess longer term outcomes.

Bakris et al. reported more detailed ambulatory BP results from the Symplicity HTN-3 trial. (5) The change in average 24-hour ambulatory systolic and diastolic BP were as reported by Bhat et al. There were no significant differences in change in ambulatory BP between the renal denervation and control groups for any of the prespecified subgroup analyses, including the presence of coexisting diabetes mellitus; sex; race; body mass index of 30 kg/m2 or more; eGFR of 60 mL/min/1.73 m2 or more; age of 60 years or older; or any medication change during the study.

SYMPLICITY HTN-2

The Symplicity HTN-2 trial was a multicenter, unblinded RCT evaluating renal sympathetic denervation versus standard pharmacologic treatment for patients with resistant hypertension. (6) A total of 106 patients with a SBP of at least 160 mm Hg, despite 3 or more antihypertensive medications were enrolled. The trial was unblinded, and clinicians ascertaining outcomes were not blinded to treatment assignment. Patients were followed for 6 months with the primary endpoint being the between-group difference in the change in BP over the course of the trial. Secondary outcomes included a composite outcome of adverse cardiovascular events and adverse effects of treatment. Baseline BP was 178/98 in the RFA group and 178/97 in the control group.

At 6 -month follow-up, the BP reductions in the RFA group were 32 mm Hg systolic (SD =23) and 12 mm Hg diastolic (SD =11). In the control group, there was a 1 mm Hg increase in systolic BP and no change for diastolic BP (p<0.001 for both SBP and SBP differences). The percent of patients who achieved an SBP of 140 or less was 39% (19/49) in the radiofrequency ablation (RFA) group compared with 6% (3/51) in the control group (p<0.001). There was no difference in renal function, as measured by serum creatinine, between groups at the 6-month time period. There were 3 patients in the RFA group who had adverse cardiovascular events compared with 2 in the control group (p=NS). Other serious adverse events requiring admission in the RFA group included one case each of nausea/vomiting, hypertensive crisis, transient ischemic attack (TIA), and hypotension.

One-year follow-up data from the Symplicity HTN-2 trial were reported in 2013. (7) This report included 47 of the 52 patients originally randomized to the RFA group, who were subsequently followed in an uncontrolled fashion after the 6-month follow-up. It also included 6-month follow-up of patients originally randomized to the control group, who were then offered crossover to RFA after 6 months. A total of 46 of 54 patients accepted crossover to RFA; 35 were available at the 12-month time point. For the patients originally randomized to RFA, the decrease in BP at 12 months was 28.1±24.9 mm Hg for SBP and 9.7±10.6 mm Hg for diastolic BP (DBP). These decreases in BP were not significantly different from those reported at the 6-month time point (31.7±23.1 mm Hg systolic and 11.7±11.2 mm Hg diastolic). For the crossover group, the decrease in BP 6 months after renal denervation was 23.7±27.5 mm Hg systolic and 8.4±12.1 mm Hg diastolic. There were 2 procedural complications in the crossover group, one patient with a dissection of the renal artery and one patient with a hypotensive episode.

Three-year follow-up data from the Symplicity HTN-2 trial were reported in 2014. (8) Follow-up was available for 40 of 52 subjects in the initial RFA group and for 30 of 37 subjects who were initially in the control group but who crossed over and received renal denervation 6 months after enrollment. After 30 months, the mean change in SBP was -34 mm Hg (95% CI: -40 to -27, p<0.01) and the mean change in DBP was -13 mm Hg (95% CI: -16 to -10, p<0.01). The degree of BP change was similar between the randomized and crossover subjects. Subjects in the initial RFA group had follow-up available at 36 months; at that point, the mean change in SBP was -33 mm Hg (95% CI: -40 to -25, p<0.01) and the mean change in DBP was -14 mm Hg (95% CI: -17 to -10, p<0.01). Beyond 12 months of follow-up, safety events included 5 hypertensive events requiring hospitalization; 1 case of mild transient acute renal failure due to dehydration; 2 episodes of atrial fibrillation requiring hospitalization; 1 case of acute renal failure due to acute interstitial nephritis that was deemed unrelated to renal denervation treatment; and 3 deaths that were deemed unrelated to the device or therapy.

The main limitations of this RCT are that it is small in size, unblinded, and has only a relatively short follow-up for the controlled portion of the trial. A trial with a sham control would allow better determination of whether the treatment effect was due to a placebo effect, or other non-specific effects of being in a trial. The 6-month follow-up reported for the controlled portion of the trial is too short to ascertain whether the reduction in BP is likely to reduce adverse cardiovascular outcomes such as myocardial infarction (MI) and stroke. The 12- and 36-month follow-up reports provide some insight into longer-term outcomes following the procedure, although comparison with a control group is no longer possible due to the crossover design.

It is unknown whether re-innervation of the renal sympathetic nerves occurs post-treatment. If reinnervation does occur, the efficacy of the procedure will diminish over time. The BP change appears to be stable over the longer-term follow-up studies, suggesting that re-innervation did not occur in the 36-month follow-up.

Other RCTs

Fadl Elmula et al. reported results from a smaller RCT that compared renal denervation with clinically-adjusted drug treatment in treatment-resistant hypertension after patients with poor drug adherence were excluded. (9) The study enrolled patients with office SBP greater than 140 mm Hg, in spite of maximally tolerated doses of at least 3 antihypertensive drugs, including a diuretic, and required that patients had an ambulatory daytime SBP greater than 135 mm Hg after witnessed intake of antihypertensive drugs. Twenty patients were randomized, 10 to adjusted drug treatment and 10 to renal denervation with the Symplicity renal denervation catheter (1 of whom was subsequently excluded due to a diagnosis of secondary hypertension). In the drug-adjusted group, the office SBP changed from 160±14 mm Hg at baseline to 132±10 mm Hg at 6-month follow-up (p<0.000); in the renal denervation group, the office SBP changed from 156±13 mm Hg at baseline to 148±7 mm Hg at 6-month follow-up (p=0.42). SBP and DBP were significantly lower in the drug-adjusted group at 6-month follow-up.

An additional randomized study compared RFA of the renal arteries plus cardiac ablation for atrial fibrillation (pulmonary vein isolation) with ablation for atrial fibrillation alone in 27 patients with refractory atrial fibrillation and resistant HTN. (10) End points of this study included both BP control and recurrence of atrial fibrillation. Patients who received RFA of the renal arteries had significant reductions in SBP (181+7 mm Hg to 156+5 mm Hg) and DBP (96+6 mm Hg to 87+4 mm Hg), compared with no reduction in the control group (p<0.001). The percentage of patients who were free of atrial fibrillation at 12 months post-treatment was higher in the group receiving renal artery denervation (69% vs 29%, p=0.033).

Section Summary

Several RCTs have compared renal denervation with drug therapy for the treatment of resistant hypertension, with conflicting results. The most rigorous evidence about the efficacy of renal denervation comes from the largest of these trials, the Symplicity HTN-3 trial, which used a single-blinded, sham-controlled design to reduce the risk of placebo effect and showed no significant improvements in BP control with renal denervation at 6 months. The difference in findings between the Symplicity HTN-3 trial and earlier trials (i.e., Symplicity HTN-2) suggests that the treatment effect seen in nonblinded trials may have been due to a placebo effect, or other nonspecific effects of being in a trial. Alternatively, BP control in the control arm may have been better in Simplicity HTN-3 trial compared with earlier studies.

Systematic Reviews

Several systematic reviews that have included RCTs and nonrandomized studies have been published, although none include the Symplicity HTN-3 trial. In 2013, Davis et al. (11) published a systematic review and meta-analysis of renal denervation that included 2 RCTs (the Symplicity HTN-2 trial (6,7) and Pokushalov et al., (10) described in the “Randomized Controlled Trials” section), 1 observational study with a control group, and 9 observational studies without a control group. In the 3 controlled studies, compared with medical treatment at 6 month follow-up, renal denervation was associated with a reduction in mean SBP of -28.9 mm Hg (95% CI: -37.2 to -20.6; p<0.000) and in mean DBP of -11 mm Hg (95% CI: -16.4 to -5.7; p<0.000). In uncontrolled studies, compared with prerenal denervation values, at 6 months of follow-up, SBP and DBP changed by -25.0 mm Hg (95% CI: -29.9 to -20.1) and -10.0 mm Hg (95% CI: -12.5 to -7.5) respectively.

Shantha et al. conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to evaluate the effects of renal denervation on obstructive sleep apnea.12 In a pooled analysis of 5 noncontrolled studies that included 49 patients, renal denervation was associated with a reduction in mean apnea-hypopnea index at 6 months post-procedure (weighted mean difference, -9.61, 95% CI: -15.43 to -3.79, p=0.001.

Nonrandomized Comparative Studies

Several nonrandomized studies with a control group have been published. The populations from some of these studies overlap to a large extent with the Symplicity HTN-2 trial. Additional cases may have been added to the study population using the same eligibility criteria, and only a small number of control patients were included in the analyses. Thus, these comparisons are not considered randomized. These studies examine different physiologic outcomes in addition to changes in BP.

An echocardiographic sub-study was published in 2012. (13) This trial compared 46 patients who underwent RFA with 18 control patients from the larger control group in the trial. The selection of patients for the control group was not specified. The main endpoints of this trial were echocardiographic measures of left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) and diastolic dysfunction at 6 months post-treatment. There was a significant decrease in the LV mass index for the treatment group at 6 months, from a baseline of 112.4±33.9 g/m2 to 94.9±29.8 g/m2. In the control group, there was a slight increase in LV mass index from 114.8±41.6 g/m2 to 118.7±30.1 g/m2 (p=0.009 for comparison with RFA group). There was also a significant improvement in measures of diastolic dysfunction for the RFA group compared with controls at 6 months.

Another sub-study published in 2011 evaluated the response to exercise in 46 patients treated with RFA compared with 9 patients in the control group at 3 months post-treatment. (14) There were significant improvements in the achieved workload, and recovery from exercise in heart rate and blood pressure compared with controls. There were no differences in maximum oxygen uptake or maximum heart rate during exercise.

A third study that enrolled 50 patients measured parameters of glucose metabolism in treated and control patients. This population included a subset of patients from the Symplicity trial (n=17 treated, n=9 control patients) and also included another 20 treated patients and 4 control patients who met the same eligibility criteria used in the Simplicity HTN-2 trial. Outcomes at 3 months showed that there was an improvement in fasting glucose for the treated patients from a baseline of 118±3.4 mg/dL to 108±3.8 mg/dL (p=0.039). There was no change in the control group. Insulin levels and C-peptide levels were also reduced in the treatment group, as were peak glucose levels at 2 hours on a glucose tolerance test.

Mahfoud et al. (15) enrolled 100 patients in a study that evaluated the impact of RFA on renal function and renal hemodynamics, 87 treated with RFA and 13 control patients. This population also overlapped with the Symplicity HTN-2 trial and all patients met the eligibility criteria used in Symplicity HTN-2. There was no discernable impact of RFA on the glomerular filtration rate or mean urinary albumin excretion at 6 -month follow-up. There were significant improvements for the treated patients on the incidence of microalbuminuria and the renal resistive index. There were no instances of renal artery stenosis, dissections, or aneurysms at the 6-month time point.

Ewen et al. evaluated the impact of renal denervation on BP, heart rate, and chronotropic index at rest, during exercise, and at recovery in 60 patients with resistant hypertension (50 who underwent renal denervation and 10 control patients). (16) At 6-month follow-up, office BP was reduced by 26/7 mm Hg to 138±3/84±2 mm Hg in the renal denervation group (p<0.001 for both), whereas there was no significant change in BP in the control group (BP reduced by 2/0 mm Hg to 153±5/87±1 mm Hg; p=0.750/p=0.611). At 6- month follow-up, the intervention group demonstrated a significant reduction in percent of maximum systolic BP from baseline during exercise and recover.

Case series

The largest case series was the Symplicity HTN-1 study, which was a multicenter, single-arm trial sponsored by the manufacturer. (17, 18) A total of 153 patients with resistant hypertension were treated at 19 clinical centers in the U.S., Europe, and Australia. The mean baseline BP was 176/98, and participants were taking a mean of 5 antihypertensive drugs. Patients were followed for up to 24 months with the main endpoint being reduction in BP. Procedural complications occurred in 4 patients (3%), including 3 cases of groin pseudoaneurysms and one renal artery dissection. The mean BP reductions at 6 months, 12 months, and 24 months were 25/11, 23/11, and 32/14, respectively. There was no evidence for a diminution of the treatment effect over time.

Krum et al reported 3-year follow-up for patients in the Symplicity HTN-1 study in 2014. (19) Among 88 patients who had complete follow-up data at 36 months, the mean change in SBP was -32 mm Hg (95% CI, -35.7 to -28.2) and DBP was -14.4 mm Hg (95% CI: -16.9 to -11.9). The proportion of patients with a SBP decrease of 10 mm Hg or more was stable over time: 69% at 1 month; 81% at 6 months; 85% at 12 months; 83% at 24 months; and 93% at 36 months. Adverse events included 4 cases of possible or suspected renal artery stenosis, 1 of which required stenting; 3 deaths that were deemed unrelated to the device or procedure; 2 hospitalizations for acute renal failure in the setting of other illnesses; and 13 hospitalizations for hypertensive episodes.

Numerous other small non-randomized studies and case series have been published, reporting BP outcomes and adverse events from the procedure. (15,20-35) these case series generally report similar BP reductions, as do the controlled studies with few complications. Some studies have reported on different populations such as the elderly population, (36) those with moderately resistant HTN, (26) with chronic kidney disease, (27,37) or with an accessory renal artery. (38) Other studies report additional outcomes, including improvements in quality of life,25 favorable changes in renal hemodynamics,15 changes in neurohormonal measurements,39 improvements in LV mass and function, (40,41) changes in PR interval and heart rate, (42) reduction in microalbuminuria, (43) and improvements in measures of vascular function. (28)

Ongoing and Unpublished Clinical Trials

A search of online database ClinicalTrials.gov with the terms “renal denervation” AND “hypertension” yielded 58 interventional studies actively recruiting patients. There were a number of ongoing RCTs listed of renal denervation as a treatment for resistant hypertension which are described briefly next. There were also several RCTs of renal denervation plus cardiac ablation for atrial fibrillation versus cardiac ablation alone; these studies are not included on this list.

  • A Study of Renal Denervation in Patients With Treatment Resistant Hypertension (PaCE) (NCT01895140) – This is an open-label, randomized controlled trial to compare early renal denervation to delayed renal denervation, both with the Medtronic Symplicity catheter device, for patients with treatment-resistant hypertension. The primary outcome measure is average systolic 24-hour ambulatory BP. Enrollment is planned for 104 subjects; the estimated study completion date is November 2016.
  • Renal Denervation in Patients With Resistant Hypertension and Obstructive Sleep Apnea (NCT01366625) – This is an open-label RCT to compare renal denervation with the Medtronic Symplicity catheter device, along with continued antihypertensive medications and continuous positive airway pressure, to routine care, for patients with treatment-resistant hypertension and obstructive sleep apnea. Enrollment is planned for 60 patients; the estimated study completion date is December 2014.
  • Rapid Renal Sympathetic Denervation for Resistant Hypertension II (RAPID II) (NCT01939392) – This is an open label, Phase II/III RCT to compare bilateral renal ablation with the Covidien OneShot system with optimal medical therapy for patients with uncontrolled hypertension. Primary outcome measures are major adverse events for 30 days after randomization and change in office SBP from baseline to 6 months postrandomization. Enrollment is planned for 253 subjects; the estimated study completion date is September 2018.
  • Renal Sympathetic Denervation for Treatment of Metabolic Syndrome Associated Hypertension (Metabolic Syndrome Study) (NCT01911078) – This is an open-label RCT to compare renal denervation with the St. Jude EnligHTN™ Renal Denervation System with control in patients with hypertension (excluding resistant or secondary hypertension) in the setting of the metabolic syndrome. The primary outcome measure is the change in insulin resistance from baseline to 3 months after renal denervation. Enrollment is planned for 60 subjects; the estimated study completion date is January 2015.
  • Renal Denervation for Management of Drug-Resistant Hypertension (INSPiRED) (NCT01505010) – INSPiRED is a single-blinded, RCT to compare renal denervation with standard treatment for patients with treatment-resistant hypertension. The primary outcome measures are decrease in SBP on ambulatory measurement and change in glomerular filtration rate. Enrollment is planned for 240 subjects; the estimated study completion date is April 2016. The study’s protocol has been published.44
  • Renal Denervation for Uncontrolled Hypertension (RDNP-2012-02) (NCT02016573) – This is an open-label RCT to compare renal denervation with the Medtronic Symplicity Renal Denervation Catheter to routine care for patients with uncontrolled hypertension. The primary outcome measure is the percentage of patients who achieve a BP target at 6 months postintervention. Enrollment is planned for 100 subjects; the estimated study completion date is December 2015.
  • Renal Denervation for Resistant Hypertension (RDNP-2012-01) (NCT01865240) – This is an open label, RCT to compare renal denervation with the Symplicity Renal Denervation Catheter with routine care for patients with refractory hypertension. The primary end point is percentage of patients to achieve BP target (BP <140/90 mm Hg, or <130/80 mm Hg in diabetic patients) at 6 months postprocedure. Enrollment is planned for 100 subjects; the estimated study completion date is February 2016.
  • Sham Controlled Study of Renal Denervation for Subjects With Uncontrolled Hypertension (WAVE_IV) (NCT02029885) – This is a randomized, double-blinded, sham-controlled trial to compare an ultrasound-based renal denervation system (the Surround Sound system) with sham control for patients with refractory hypertension. The primary outcome measures are safety at 6 weeks postprocedure and change in office SBP from screening to 6 months postprocedure. Enrollment is planned for 126 subjects; the estimated study completion date is September 2016.
  • Sympathetic Renal Denervation Versus Increment of Pharmacological Treatment in Resistant Arterial Hypertension (NCT02039492) – This is an open label, randomized trial to compare renal denervation with aldactone for the management of treatment-resistant hypertension. The primary outcome measure is the change in ambulatory 24h-SBP from baseline to 6 months of follow-up. Enrollment is planned for 50 subjects; the estimated study completion date is December 2015.
  • Denervation of the renAl sympathetic nerveS in hearT Failure With nOrmal Lv Ejection Fraction (DIASTOLE) (NCT01583881) – DIASTOLE is an open-label randomized trial to compare renal denervation with standard of care for patients with heart failure with preserved ejection fraction and hypertension. Enrollment is planned for 60 subjects; the estimated study completion date is December 2014.
  • Renal Denervation to Improve Outcomes in Patients With End-stage Renal Disease (NCT02021019) – This is an open-label, RCT to compare renal denervation with standard of care for patients with end-stage renal disease and hypertension. The primary outcome measure is BP change (office-based) from enrollment to 6 months of follow-up. Enrollment is planned for 100 subjects; the estimated study completion date is December 2016.
  • Renal Denervation in Patients With Heart Failure With Normal LV Ejection Fraction (NCT02115230) – This is an open-label RCT to compare renal denervation with irrigated RF catheter with Celsius Thermocool (Biosense Webster, California, US) with standard medical therapy for patients with hypertension and heart failure with normal ejection fraction and LV hypertrophy. Enrollment is planned for 40 subjects; the estimated study completion date is July 2016.
  • Renal Sympathetic Denervation and Insulin Sensitivity (RENSYMPIS Study) (NCT01785732) – RENSYMPIS is an open-label, RCT to compare renal denervation with optimized medical therapy for the treatment of resistant hypertension. The primary outcome measure is office BP at 2 years post-intervention. Enrollment is planned for 60 subjects; the estimated study completion date is January 2016.
  • Renal Denervation in Patients With Uncontrolled Blood Pressure (NCT01968785) – This is a double-blind, RCT to compare 2 radiation doses for the sympathetic renal denervation for patients with refractory hypertension. Enrollment is planned for 20 subjects; the estimated study completion date is December 2014.
  • Renal Sympathetic Denervation as a New Treatment for Therapy Resistant Hypertension (SYMPATHY) (NCT01850901) – SYMPATHY is an open-label RCT to compare renal denervation with standard care for patients with medication-resistant hypertension. The primary outcome measure is change in average day-time SBPat 6 months post-procedure. Enrollment is planned for 300 subjects; the planned study completion date is June 2016.
  • Renal Denervation in Patients After Acute Coronary Syndrome (ACSRD) (NCT01901549) – This is a double-blind, RCT to compare renal denervation (with percutaneous coronary intervention [PCI] and medical therapy) with PCI and medical therapy in patients with acute coronary syndrome and hypertension. The primary outcome measures are the rates of cardiovascular death, MI, stroke, and repeat revascularization in the year following the procedure. Enrollment is planned for 80 subjects; the planned study completion date is June 2016.
  • Radiofrequency Ablation for ADPKD Blood Pressure and Disease Progression Control (RAFALE) (NCT01932450) – RAFALE is an open-label RCT to compare renal denervation (with antihypertensive medications) with antihypertensive medications alone in the treatment of hypertension in patients with autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease. The primary outcome measure is office-based blood pressure measurements. Enrollment is planned for 100 subjects; the planned study completion date is July 2015.
  • Renal Denervation in Heart Failure Patients With Preserved Ejection Fraction (RESPECT-HF) (NCT02041130) – RESPECT-HF is an open-label RCT to compare renal denervation with the Symplicity Renal Denervation Catheter to routine care for patients with heart failure with preserved ejection fraction, with or without hypertension. Enrollment is planned for 144 subjects; the planned study completion date is December 2016.
  • Full Length Versus Proximal Renal Arteries Ablation (NCT01848275) – This is an open-label RCT to compare renal sympathetic denervation with the Thermocool catheter system for the whole length of the renal arteries with ablation through the proximal renal arteries for patients with drug-resistant hypertension. Enrollment is planned for 40 subjects; the planned study completion date is listed as December 2013, but no results have been posted.
  • Renal Denervation in Treatment Resistant Hypertension (ReSET-2) (NCT01762488) – This is a randomized, double-blind trial to compare renal denervation to a sham comparator of renal angiography in patients with resistant hypertension. The primary endpoint is change in 24-hour ambulatory BP. Planned enrollment is for 70 patients; the estimated primary completion date is December 2014.
  • Renal Denervation by Allegro System in Patients with Resistant Hypertension (NCT01874470). This is a randomized, open-label study of renal denervation compared with standard medication in patients with resistant hypertension. The primary endpoint is change in SBP measured by 24-hour ambulatory monitor. Planned enrollment is for 160 patients; the estimated study completion date of was April 2014. No results have been posted.
  • Renal Denervation by MDT-2211 System in Patients with Uncontrolled Hypertension (NCT01644604). This is a randomized, open-label study of renal denervation versus standard care in patients with uncontrolled hypertension. The primary endpoint is change in office BP. Planned enrollment is for 100 patients, with an estimated study completion date of March 2018.
  • Renal Sympathectomy in Treatment Resistant Essential Hypertension, a Sham Controlled Randomized Trial (ReSET) (NCT01459900). ReSET is a sham-controlled, double-blind RCT of patients with elevated BP despite treatment with at least 3 medications. The primary endpoint is change in daytime SBP at 6-month follow-up. Enrollment is planned for 70 patients, with an estimated study completion date of April 2015.
  • Effect of Renal Denervation on NO-mediated Sodium Excretion and Plasma Levels of Vasoactive Hormones (RENO) (NCT01617551) – RENO is a substudy of the ReSET trial (NCT01459900) to evaluate the effects of renal denervation on the effects of nitric oxide-mediated inhibition of renal, hemodynamic, and hormonal variables. This substudy’s primary outcome measure is the fractional excretion of sodium after acute L-NMMA treatment. Enrollment for this substudy is planned for 30 patients; the estimated study completion date is listed as June 2014, although no results have been posted.
  • Study of Catheter-based Renal Denervation Therapy in Hypertension (DEPART) (NCT01522430). The DEPART trial is a sham-controlled, double-blind RCT of patients with elevated BP, despite treatment with at least 3 medications. The primary endpoints are changes in SBP/DBP and glomerular filtration rate at 6 months of follow-up. Enrollment is planned for 120 patients, with an estimated study completion date of December 2016.
  • Renal Denervation in Hypertension (DENER-HTN) trial (NCT01570777). DENER-HTN is a multicenter, unblinded RCT of patients with elevated BP, despite treatment with at least 3 medications. The primary endpoint is change in daytime systolic BP at 6-month follow-up. Enrollment is planned for 121 patients, with an estimated study completion date of April 2018.
  • Renal Sympathetic Denervation for the Management of Chronic Hypertension (RELIEF) trial (NCT01628172). RELIEF is a single-blind RCT of patients with elevated BP, despite treatment with at least 3 medications. The primary endpoint is change in 24-hour ambulatory BP at 6-month follow-up. Enrollment is planned for 100 patients, with an estimated study completion date of January 2015.

Summary of Evidence

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) of the renal sympathetic nerves is a non-pharmacologic treatment for hypertension and has been proposed as a treatment option for patients with resistant hypertension. There are currently no devices that have FDA-approval for this indication. This is an active area of research, with numerous ongoing randomized controlled trials (RCTs)

The published evidence consists of 4 RCTs, along with multiple nonrandomized comparative studies and case series. The largest and most recent trial, the Symplicity HTN-3 trial, which used a sham-controlled design to reduce the likelihood of placebo effect, demonstrated no significant differences between renal denervation and sham-control patients in office-based or ambulatory blood pressure (BP) at 6-month follow-up. The Symplicity HTN-3 results were in contrast to earlier studies, the largest of which, Symplicity HTN-2, reported efficacy in reducing BP over a 6-month time period compared with a control group, and an extension study reported 12-month BP follow-up for treated patients in an uncontrolled fashion. Symplicity HTN-2 reported a decrease in SBP of approximately 30 mm Hg and a decrease in DBP of approximately 10 mm Hg at 6 months and that this reduction was largely maintained at 12 months.

Single-arm studies with overlapping populations also report improvements in BP and related physiologic parameters, such as echocardiographic measures of LV hypertrophy, that appear to be durable up to 24-months of follow-up. There is no evidence that reports improvements in clinical outcomes as a result of treatment with RFA of the renal sympathetic nerves. Potential complications of this procedure include vascular access problems, perforation of the renal artery, and renal artery stenosis, but rates of complications have not been well-established. Given the findings from the Symplicity HTN-3 trial and evidence from earlier studies, it is uncertain whether RFA improves health outcomes compared with continued medical therapy, and therefore RFA of the renal sympathetic nerves is considered investigational.

Practice Guidelines and Position Statements

In 2013, the European Society of Cardiology issued an expert consensus statement45 on catheter-based renal denervation that makes the following conclusions:

“Current evidence from the available clinical trials strongly support the notion that catheter-based radiofrequency ablation of renal nerves reduces blood pressure and improves blood pressure control in patients with drug-treated resistant hypertension, with data now extending out to 36 months. Accordingly, renal denervation can be considered as a therapeutic option in patients with resistant hypertension, whose blood pressure cannot be controlled by a combination of lifestyle modification and pharmacological therapy according to current guidelines.”

The statement outlined the following criteria patients should meet before renal denervation is considered:

  • Office-based systolic blood pressure (BP) ≥160 mm Hg (≥150 mm Hg in type 2 diabetes.)
  • ≥3 antihypertensive drugs in adequate dosage and combination (including a diuretic).
  • Lifestyle modification.
  • Exclusion of secondary hypertension.
  • Exclusion of pseudoresistance using ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (average BP >130 mm Hg or mean daytime BP >135 mm Hg)
  • Preserved renal function (GFR ≥45 mL/min/1.73 m2)
  • Eligible renal arteries: no polar or accessory arteries; no renal artery stenosis; no prior revascularization.

U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendations

RFA of renal sympathetic nerves is not a preventive service.

Medicare National Coverage

There is no national coverage determination (NCD). In the absence of an NCD, coverage decisions are left to the discretion of local Medicare carriers.

References

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  2. Doumas M, Papademetriou V, Douma S, et al. Benefits from treatment and control of patients with resistant hypertension. Int J Hypertens. 2010; 2011:318549. PMID 21234402
  3. Zile MR, Little WC. Effects of autonomic modulation: more than just blood pressure. J Am Coll Cardiol. Mar 6 2012; 59(10):910-912. PMID 22381426
  4. Bhatt DL, Kandzari DE, O'Neill WW, et al. A controlled trial of renal denervation for resistant hypertension. N Engl J Med. Apr 10 2014;370(15):1393-1401. PMID 24678939
  5. Bakris GL, Townsend RR, Liu M, et al. Impact of Renal Denervation on 24-hour Ambulatory Blood Pressure: Results from SYMPLICITY HTN-3. J Am Coll Cardiol. May 17 2014. PMID 24858423
  6. Esler MD, Krum H, Sobotka PA, et al. Renal sympathetic denervation in patients with treatment-resistant hypertension (the Symplicity HTN-2 trial): a randomised controlled trial. Lancet. Dec 4 2010; 376(9756):1903-1909. PMID 21093036
  7. Esler MD, Krum H, Schlaich M, et al. Renal sympathetic denervation for treatment of drug-resistant hypertension: one-year results from the Symplicity HTN-2 randomized, controlled trial. Circulation. Dec 18 2012; 126(25):2976-2982. PMID 23248063
  8. Esler MD, Bohm M, Sievert H, et al. Catheter-based renal denervation for treatment of patients with treatment-resistant hypertension: 36 month results from the SYMPLICITY HTN-2 randomized clinical trial. Eur Heart J. Jul 7 2014;35(26):1752-1759. PMID 24898552
  9. Fadl Elmula FE, Hoffmann P, Larstorp AC, et al. Adjusted drug treatment is superior to renal sympathetic denervation in patients with true treatment-resistant hypertension. Hypertension. May 2014;63(5):991-999. PMID 24591332
  10. Pokushalov E, Romanov A, Corbucci G, et al. A randomized comparison of pulmonary vein isolation with versus without concomitant renal artery denervation in patients with refractory symptomatic atrial fibrillation and resistant hypertension. J Am Coll Cardiol. Sep 25 2012; 60(13):1163-1170. PMID 22958958
  11. Davis MI, Filion KB, Zhang D, et al. Effectiveness of renal denervation therapy for resistant hypertension: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Am Coll Cardiol. Jul 16 2013;62(3):231-241. PMID 23644092
  12. Shantha GP, Pancholy SB. Effect of renal sympathetic denervation on apnea-hypopnea index in patients with obstructive sleep apnea: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Sleep Breath. May 17 2014. PMID 24839239
  13. Brandt MC, Mahfoud F, Reda S, et al. Renal sympathetic denervation reduces left ventricular hypertrophy and improves cardiac function in patients with resistant hypertension. J Am Coll Cardiol. Mar 6 2012; 59(10):901-909. PMID 22381425
  14. Ukena C, Mahfoud F, Kindermann I, et al. Cardiorespiratory response to exercise after renal sympathetic denervation in patients with resistant hypertension. J Am Coll Cardiol. Sep 6 2011; 58(11):1176-1182. PMID 21884958
  15. Mahfoud F, Cremers B, Janker J, et al. Renal hemodynamics and renal function after catheter-based renal sympathetic denervation in patients with resistant hypertension. Hypertension. Aug 2012; 60(2):419-424. PMID 22733462
  16. Ewen S, Mahfoud F, Linz D, et al. Effects of renal sympathetic denervation on exercise blood pressure, heart rate, and capacity in patients with resistant hypertension. Hypertension. Apr 2014;63(4):839-845. PMID 24420550
  17. Catheter-based renal sympathetic denervation for resistant hypertension: durability of blood pressure reduction out to 24 months. Hypertension. May 2011; 57(5):911-917. PMID 21403086
  18. Krum H, Schlaich M, Whitbourn R, et al. Catheter-based renal sympathetic denervation for resistant hypertension: a multicentre safety and proof-of-principle cohort study. Lancet. Apr 11 2009; 373(9671):1275-1281. PMID 19332353
  19. Krum H, Schlaich MP, Sobotka PA, et al. Percutaneous renal denervation in patients with treatment-resistant hypertension: final 3-year report of the Symplicity HTN-1 study. Lancet. Feb 15 2014;383(9917):622-629. PMID 24210779
  20. Tsioufis C, Dimitriadis K, Tsiachris D, et al. Catheter-based renal sympathetic denervation for the treatment of resistant hypertension: first experience in Greece with significant ambulatory blood pressure reduction. Hellenic J Cardiol. May 2012; 53(3):237-241. PMID 22653249
  21. Mabin T, Sapoval M, Cabane V, et al. First experience with endovascular ultrasound renal denervation for the treatment of resistant hypertension. EuroIntervention. May 15 2012; 8(1):57-61. PMID 22580249
  22. Simonetti G, Spinelli A, Gandini R, et al. Endovascular radiofrequency renal denervation in treating refractory arterial hypertension: a preliminary experience. Radiol Med. Apr 2012; 117(3):426-444. PMID 22228124
  23. Prochnau D, Lucas N, Kuehnert H, et al. Catheter-based renal denervation for drug-resistant hypertension by using a standard electrophysiology catheter. EuroIntervention. Jan 2012; 7(9):1077-1080. PMID 21959556
  24. Witkowski A, Prejbisz A, Florczak E, et al. Effects of renal sympathetic denervation on blood pressure, sleep apnea course, and glycemic control in patients with resistant hypertension and sleep apnea. Hypertension. Oct 2011; 58(4):559-565. PMID 21844482
  25. Lambert GW, Hering D, Esler MD, et al. Health-related quality of life after renal denervation in patients with treatment-resistant hypertension. Hypertension. Dec 2012; 60(6):1479-1484. PMID 23071129
  26. Ott C, Mahfoud F, Schmid A, et al. Renal denervation in moderate treatment resistant hypertension. J Am Coll Cardiol. Jun 27 2013. PMID 23850901
  27. Hering D, Mahfoud F, Walton AS, et al. Renal denervation in moderate to severe CKD. J Am Soc Nephrol. Jul 2012; 23(7):1250-1257. PMID 22595301
  28. Brandt MC, Reda S, Mahfoud F, et al. Effects of renal sympathetic denervation on arterial stiffness and central hemodynamics in patients with resistant hypertension. J Am Coll Cardiol. Nov 6 2012; 60(19):1956-1965. PMID 23062529
  29. Bausback Y, Friedenberger J, Hertting K, et al. renal denervation for hypertension refractory to renal artery stenting. J Endovasc Ther. Apr 2014;21(2):181-190. PMID 24754276
  30. Dong H, Jiang X, Liang T, et al. One-year outcomes of percutaneous renal denervation for the treatment of resistant hypertension: the first Chinese experience. Chin Med J (Engl). 2014;127(6):1003-1007. PMID 24622425
  31. Dores H, de Sousa Almeida M, de Araujo Goncalves P, et al. Renal denervation in patients with resistant hypertension: six-month results. Rev Port Cardiol. Apr 2014;33(4):197-204. PMID 24472425
  32. Hering D, Marusic P, Walton AS, et al. Sustained sympathetic and blood pressure reduction 1 year after renal denervation in patients with resistant hypertension. Hypertension. Jul 2014;64(1):118-124. PMID 24732891
  33. Kaiser L, Beister T, Wiese A, et al. Results of the ALSTER BP real-world registry on renal denervation employing the Symplicity system. EuroIntervention. May 2014;10(1):157-165. PMID 24472799
  34. Korovesis S, Giazitzoglou E, Pantos I, et al. Renal denervation for resistant hypertension: acute results and long-term follow-up. Hellenic J Cardiol. May-Jun 2014;55(3):211-216. PMID 24862613
  35. Vogel B, Kirchberger M, Zeier M, et al. Renal sympathetic denervation therapy in the real world: results from the Heidelberg registry. Clin Res Cardiol. Feb 2014;103(2):117-124. PMID 24126436
  36. Ziegler AK, Bertog S, Kaltenbach B, et al. Efficacy and safety of renal denervation in elderly patients with resistant hypertension. Catheter Cardiovasc Interv. Aug 27 2013. PMID 23983010
  37. Kiuchi MG, Maia GL, de Queiroz Carreira MA, et al. Effects of renal denervation with a standard irrigated cardiac ablation catheter on blood pressure and renal function in patients with chronic kidney disease and resistant hypertension. Eur Heart J. Jul 2013;34(28):2114-2121. PMID 23786861
  38. Id D, Kaltenbach B, Bertog SC, et al. Does the presence of accessory renal arteries affect the efficacy of renal denervation? JACC Cardiovasc Interv. Oct 2013;6(10):1085-1091. PMID 24156968
  39. Ezzahti M, Moelker A, Friesema EC, et al. Blood pressure and neurohormonal responses to renal nerve ablation in treatment-resistant hypertension. J Hypertens. Jan 2014;32(1):135-141. PMID 24131897
  40. Mahfoud F, Urban D, Teller D, et al. Effect of renal denervation on left ventricular mass and function in patients with resistant hypertension: data from a multi-centre cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging trial. Eur Heart J. Mar 6 2014. PMID 24603307
  41. Schirmer SH, Sayed MM, Reil JC, et al. Improvements in left ventricular hypertrophy and diastolic function following renal denervation: effects beyond blood pressure and heart rate reduction. J Am Coll Cardiol. May 13 2014;63(18):1916-1923. PMID 24315919
  42. Ukena C, Mahfoud F, Spies A, et al. Effects of renal sympathetic denervation on heart rate and atrioventricular conduction in patients with resistant hypertension. Int J Cardiol. Sep 10 2013;167(6):2846-2851. PMID 22917547
  43. Ott C, Mahfoud F, Schmid A, et al. Improvement of albuminuria after renal denervation. Int J Cardiol. May 1 2014;173(2):311-315. PMID 24681017
  44. Jin Y, Jacobs L, Baelen M, et al. rationale and design of the Investigator-Steered Project on Intravascular Renal Denervation for Management of Drug-Resistant Hypertension (INSPiRED) trial. Blood Press. Jun 2014;23(3):138-146. PMID 24742341
  45. Mahfoud F, Lüscher TF, Andersson B, et al. Expert consensus document from the European Society of Cardiology on catheter-based renal denervation. Eur Heart J. April 25, 2013 2013. PMID

Coding

Codes

Number

Description

CPT

0338T

Transcatheter renal sympathetic denervation, percutaneous approach including arterial puncture, selective catheter placement(s) renal artery(ies), fluoroscopy, contrast injection(s), intraprocedural roadmapping and radiological supervision and interpretation, including pressure gradient measurements, flush aortogram and diagnostic renal angiography when performed; unilateral (effective 01/01/14)

 

0339T

Bilateral (effective 01/01/14)

 

64999

Unlisted procedure, nervous system

Appendix

N/A

History

Date

Reason

10/15/12

New Policy. Radiofrequency ablation of the renal sympathetic nerves is considered investigational for the treatment of resistant hypertension.

12/04/13

Replace policy. Policy updated with literature review through July 31, 2013. References 5, 6, 17-21 added. No change in policy statement. Codes 0338T and 0339T added to policy; codes 36251-36254 removed from policy; they are no specific to the procedure.

11/20/14

Annual Review. Policy updated with literature review through July 31, 2014. References 4-5, 8-9, 11-12, 16, 19, 29-36, 38-43, and 45 added. No change to policy statement.


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