Comparative Effectiveness and Cost-Effectiveness of Computed Tomography Screening for Coronary Artery Calcium in Asymptomatic Individuals

OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to assess the (cost-) effectiveness of screening asymptomatic individuals at intermediate risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) for coronary artery calcium with computed tomography (CT).

METHODS: A Markov model was developed on the basis of the Rotterdam Study. Four strategies were evaluated: 1) current practice; 2) current prevention guidelines for cardiovascular disease; 3) CT screening for coronary calcium; and 4) statin therapy for all individuals. Asymptomatic individuals at intermediate risk of CHD were simulated over their remaining lifetime. Quality-adjusted life years (QALYs), costs, and incremental cost-effectiveness ratios were calculated.

RESULTS: In men, CT screening was more effective and more costly than the other 3 strategies (CT vs. current practice: +0.13 QALY [95% confidence interval (CI): 0.01 to 0.26], +$4,676 [95% CI: $3,126 to $6,339]; CT vs. statin therapy: +0.04 QALY [95% CI: -0.02 to 0.13], +$1,951 [95% CI: $1,170 to $2,754]; and CT vs. current guidelines: +0.02 QALY [95% CI: -0.04 to 0.09], +$44 [95% CI: -$441 to $486]). The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of CT calcium screening was $48,800/QALY gained. In women, CT screening was more effective and more costly than current practice (+0.13 QALY [95% CI: 0.02 to 0.28], +$4,663 [95% CI: $3,120 to $6,277]) and statin therapy (+0.03 QALY [95% CI: -0.03 to 0.12], +$2,273 [95% CI: $1,475 to $3,109]). However, implementing current guidelines was more effective compared with CT screening (+0.02 QALY [95% CI: -0.03 to 0.07]), only a little more expensive (+$297 [95% CI: -$8 to $633]), and had a lower cost per additional QALY ($33,072/QALY vs. $35,869/QALY). Sensitivity analysis demonstrated robustness of results in women but considerable uncertainty in men.

CONCLUSIONS: Screening for coronary artery calcium with CT in individuals at intermediate risk of CHD is probably cost-effective in men but is unlikely to be cost-effective in women.

PMID: 21982314

Posted in Computed Tomography and tagged , , , , , , .

One Comment

  1. From RSNA weekly:

    A model developed by Dutch researchers indicates that coronary artery calcium (CAC) screening in asymptomatic, intermediate-risk patients is probably cost-effective in men, but it is unlikely to be so in women. The model is designed to analyze four strategies: current practice, current prevention guidelines for cardiovascular disease, CT screening for coronary artery calcium, and statin therapy for all patients. Researchers found that, although CAC was more costly in men, it was also more effective than the other strategies. In women, CAC was still more effective and more costly than current practice and statin therapy. However, implementing current guidelines was more effective than calcium screening in women and only slightly more expensive. Current guidelines were also found to have a lower cost per additional quality-adjusted life year (QALY) than CAC in women.

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