Cost-Effectiveness of FDG-PET/CT for Cytologically Indeterminate Thyroid Nodules: A Decision Analytic Approach

D. Vriens*, E.M.M. Adang, R.T. Netea-Maier, J.W.A. Smit, J.H.W. de Wilt, W.J.G. Oyen, Lioe-Fee de Geus-Oei

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)
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Context: Patients with thyroid nodules of indeterminate cytology undergo diagnostic surgery according to current guidelines. In 75% of patients, the nodule is benign. In these patients, surgery was unnecessary and unbeneficial because complications may occur. Preoperative fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography/computed tomography (FDG-PET/CT) was found to have a very high negative predictive value (96%) and might therefore avoid futile surgery, complications, and costs. In the United States, two molecular tests of cytology material are routinely used for this purpose.

Objective: Five-year cost-effectiveness for routine implementation of FDG-PET/CT was evaluated in adult patients with indeterminate fine-needle aspiration cytology and compared with surgery in all patients and both molecular tests.

Design: A Markov decision model was developed to synthesize the evidence on cost-effectiveness about the four alternative strategies. The model was probabilistically analyzed. One-way sensitivity analyses of deterministic input variables likely to influence outcome were performed.

Setting and Subjects: The model was representative for adult patients with cytologically indeterminate thyroid nodules.

Main Outcome Measures: The discounted incremental net monetary benefit (iNMB), the efficiency decision rule containing outcomes as quality-adjusted life-years and (direct) medical cost, of implementation of FDG-PET/CT is displayed.

Results: Full implementation of FDG-PET/CT resulted in 40% surgery for benign nodules, compared with 75% in the conventional approach, without a difference in recurrence free and overall survival. The FDG-PET/CT modality is the more efficient technology, with a mean iNMB of €3684 compared with surgery in all. Also, compared with a gene expression classifier test and a molecular marker panel, the mean iNMB of FDG-PET/CT was €1030 and €3851, respectively, and consequently the more efficient alternative.

Conclusion: Full implementation of preoperative FDG-PET/CT in patients with indeterminate thyroid nodules could prevent up to 47% of current unnecessary surgery leading to lower costs and a modest increase of health-related quality of life. Compared with an approach with diagnostic surgery in all patients and both molecular tests, it is the least expensive alternative with similar effectiveness as the gene-expression classifier.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3263-3274
JournalJournal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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