Cost-Minimization Analysis of Computed Tomography versus Magnetic Resonance Imaging in the Evaluation of Patients with Transient Ischemic Attacks at a Large Academic Center
Sidorov, Evgeny V.
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CitationSidorov, Evgeny V., Wuwei Feng, and Magdy Selim. 2014. “Cost-Minimization Analysis of Computed Tomography versus Magnetic Resonance Imaging in the Evaluation of Patients with Transient Ischemic Attacks at a Large Academic Center.” Cerebrovascular Diseases Extra 4 (1): 69-76. doi:10.1159/000360521. http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000360521.
AbstractBackground: The type of neuroimaging for the evaluation of transient ischemic attack (TIA) is debatable. Many patients undergo head computed tomography (CT) with or without CT angiogram (CTA) while being at the emergency department (ED) and later magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with MR angiogram (MRA) during admission. We hypothesized that evaluation with only one imaging modality (CT/CTA or MRI/MRA) is sufficient to formulate a treatment plan. We looked for the most cost-effective way to evaluate TIA patients. Methods: We performed a retrospective chart review of 82 patients with TIA. All patients had completely resolved neurological deficit at the time of their evaluation in the ED. We divided the patients into two groups. In group 1, the evaluation included CT with CTA of the head and neck. In group 2, the evaluation included brain MRI with MRA or CTA of the head and neck. We compared these two groups for clinical characteristics and etiological evaluations of stroke/TIA. The outcomes were measured by the number of therapeutic adjustments for the prevention of another ischemic stroke/TIA at the time of discharge from the hospital and revascularization procedures. We counted the following as therapeutic adjustment: (1) antiplatelet therapy was started de novo; (2) anticoagulation was started; (3) arterial revascularization procedure was performed, and (4) one antiplatelet agent was substituted for another. We performed a cost-effectiveness analysis if the outcomes of the two groups were different and a cost-minimization analysis if there was no difference in the outcomes. All cost calculations were made based on Medicare CPT codes. Results: Group 1 included 23 patients and group 2 59 patients. The patients in both groups had similar demographic and clinical characteristics. There was no difference in other etiological evaluations in groups 1 and 2. All patients underwent head CT as the first tool of evaluation whether MRI was done later or not. Therapeutic adjustments and revascularization procedures did not differ between the two groups. All head CTs showed no acute changes. MRI showed small ischemic infarcts in 44% of the patients in group 2. The average per-patient cost of neuroimaging with CT/CTA was USD 1,460.00, with CT and MRI/MRA USD 1,569 and with CT/CTA and brain MRI USD 2,090.00 (p < 0.01). Conclusion: Either MRI/MRA or CT/CTA might be sufficient for the evaluation of patients with TIA or small asymptomatic strokes. If head CT at the ED is bypassed, a brain MRI with MRA of the head and neck would be the most informative tool at the lowest cost. Prospective studies with larger numbers of patients are needed for a better understanding of the safety and cost of imaging tools used for patients with TIA.
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