BACKGROUND: Image-guided navigation systems are well establish technologies; their use in clinical practice is growing. To date many publications have demonstrated their accuracy and safety. However, the acquisition and maintenance costs are high. In an era in which health expenditures are rising exponentially, analyses of the economic impact of new technologies are mandatory to assess their sustainability.
METHODS: A retrospective analysis to assess the overall costs of a series of patients admitted to our Neurosurgical Department for spinal instrumentation. We compared two different types of spinal navigation systems: based on preoperative CT scan (January 2003-April 2009) and on intraoperative CT-like scan (April 2009-March 2013). We used a micro-costing approach by a hospital perspective considering all the phases of the treatment process, from pre admission testing to discharge.
RESULTS: The study includes 875 patients. Baseline data, hospitalization and complications were similar for both. Mean cost was 7,305.9 € for intraoperative CT scan procedure and 7,666.2 € for preoperative image-guided system. The effectiveness, in terms of screw accuracy was similar. Higher costs were related to implanted materials, human resources, and disposable.
CONCLUSIONS: There was a statistically significant difference between the two groups in terms of costs. A break-even point for the acquisition of an intraoperative image system is calculated in almost 130 procedures. Moreover, nowadays this system is used for more than only screw insertion reducing the financial impact of this technology on a Hospital.