Cost-effectiveness of a novel blood-pool contrast agent in the setting of chest pain evaluation in an emergency department

Gabriela Espinosa, Ananth Annapragada
AJR. American Journal of Roentgenology 2013, 201 (4): 710-9

OBJECTIVE: We evaluated three diagnostic strategies with the objective of comparing the current standard of care for individuals presenting acute chest pain and no history of coronary artery disease (CAD) with a novel diagnostic strategy using an emerging technology (blood-pool contrast agent [BPCA]) to identify the potential benefits and cost reductions.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: A decision analytic model of diagnostic strategies and outcomes using a BPCA and a conventional agent for CT angiography (CTA) in patients with acute chest pain was built. The model was used to evaluate three diagnostic strategies: CTA using a BPCA followed by invasive coronary angiography (ICA), CTA using a conventional agent followed by ICA, and ICA alone.

RESULTS: The use of the two CTA-based triage tests before ICA in a population with a CAD prevalence of less than 47% was predicted to be more cost-effective than ICA alone. Using the base-case values and a cost premium for BPCA over the conventional CT agent (cost of BPCA ≈ 5× that of a conventional agent) showed that CTA with a BPCA before ICA resulted in the most cost-effective strategy; the other strategies were ruled out by simple dominance. The model strongly depends on the rates of complications from the diagnostic tests included in the model. In a population with an elevated risk of contrast-induced nephropathy (CIN), a significant premium cost per BPCA dose still resulted in the alternative whereby CTA using BPCA was more cost-effective than CTA using a conventional agent. A similar effect was observed for potential complications resulting from the BPCA injection. Conversely, in the presence of a similar complication rate from BPCA, the diagnostic strategy of CTA using a conventional agent would be the optimal alternative.

CONCLUSION: BPCAs could have a significant impact in the diagnosis of acute chest pain, in particular for populations with high incidences of CIN. In addition, a BPCA strategy could garner further savings if currently excluded phenomena including renal disease and incidental findings were included in the decision model.


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