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CT Angiography is Cost-Effective for Confirmation of Internal Carotid Artery Occlusions

Journal of Neuroimaging
Wiley Blackwell (Blackwell Publishing)
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BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE While sensitive to internal carotid artery (ICA) occlusion, carotid ultrasound can produce false-positive results. CT angiography (CTA) has a high specificity for ICA occlusion and is safer and cheaper than catheter angiography, although less accurate. We determined the cost-effectiveness of CTA versus catheter angiography for confirming an ICA occlusion first suggested by carotid ultrasound. METHODS A Markov decision-analytic model was constructed to estimate the cost-effectiveness of CTA compared with catheter angiography in a hypothetical cohort of symptomatic patients with a screening examination consistent with an ICA occlusion. Costs in 2004 dollars were estimated from Medicare reimbursement. Effectiveness was measured in quality-adjusted life years. RESULTS The 2-year cost in the CTA scenario was $9,178, and for catheter angiography, $11,531, consistent with a $2,353 cost-savings per person for CTA. CTA resulted in accrual of 1.83 quality-adjusted life years while catheter angiography resulted in 1.82 quality-adjusted life years. CTA was less costly and marginally more effective than catheter angiography. In sensitivity analyses, when CTA sensitivity and specificity were allowed to vary across a plausible range, CTA remained cost-effective. CONCLUSIONS After screening examination has suggested an ICA occlusion, confirmatory testing with CTA provides similar effectiveness to catheter angiography and is less costly. J Neuroimaging 2008;18:355–359.

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