AIM: The aim of this study was to analyze the economic efficiency of second-line diagnostic investigations in patients with undetermined lung nodules. PARTICIPANTS AND METHODS: A retrospective review of all surgical cases included in the DANTE trial from 2001 to 2006 for lung cancer screening was performed. Overall, 217 patients and 261 lung nodules were analyzed. The cohort was divided into patients investigated with PET and/or computed tomography (CT)-guided biopsy (PET-CTB protocol; N=100), compared with those assessed with serial low-dose CT scans (standard protocol; N=161). Outpatient's and inpatient's costs were expressed in euros and derived from the Italian National Health Service. Ineffective costs were defined as the cost of procedures that lead to avoidable surgical intervention. RESULTS: The diagnostic accuracy of the two protocols was 91% for the standard (sensitivity 100%, specificity 91%, positive predictive value 26%, and negative predictive value 100%) and 90% for the PET-CTB protocol (sensitivity 98%, specificity 81%, positive predictive value 85%, and negative predictive value 97%). Average costs for outpatient's diagnostics were 694 and 1.462 euros, respectively, for the standard and PET-CTB protocol. Average inpatient's costs for both protocols were 12.121 euros. The two protocols showed comparable effectiveness in terms of outpatient's costs (94 and 90%, respectively; P=0.252). Inpatient's costs were effective in 36% of cases monitored according to the standard protocol compared with 85% of patients investigated with PET-CTB protocol. Ineffective costs corresponded to 64 and 15%, respectively (P<0.0001). CONCLUSION: Despite a higher average cost for outpatient's diagnostics, the implementation of PET imaging with or without CT-guided needle biopsy in the workup of suspicious lung nodules results in reduced unnecessary harm and costs related to inpatient's procedures.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging