Published online Mar 21, 2015. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v21.i11.3337
Peer-review started: September 25, 2014
First decision: October 14, 2014
Revised: November 3, 2014
Accepted: December 8, 2014
Article in press: December 8, 2014
Published online: March 21, 2015
AIM: To investigate whether screening for gallstone disease was economically feasible and clinically effective.
METHODS: This clinical study was initially conducted in 2002 in Taipei, Taiwan. The study cohort total included 2386 healthy adults who were voluntarily admitted to a regional teaching hospital for a physical check-up. Annual follow-up screening with ultrasound sonography for gallstone disease continued until December 31, 2007. A decision analysis using the Markov Decision Model was constructed to compare different screening regimes for gallstone disease. The economic evaluation included estimates of both the cost-effectiveness and cost-utility of screening for gallstone disease.
RESULTS: Direct costs included the cost of screening, regular clinical fees, laparoscopic cholecystectomy, and hospitalization. Indirect costs represent the loss of productivity attributable to the patient’s disease state, and were estimated using the gross domestic product for 2011 in Taiwan. Longer time intervals in screening for gallstone disease were associated with the reduced efficacy and utility of screening and with increased cost. The cost per life-year gained (average cost-effectiveness ratio) for annual screening, biennial screening, 3-year screening, 4-year screening, 5-year screening, and no-screening was new Taiwan dollars (NTD) 39076, NTD 58059, NTD 72168, NTD 104488, NTD 126941, and NTD 197473, respectively (P < 0.05). The cost per quality-adjusted life-year gained by annual screening was NTD 40725; biennial screening, NTD 64868; 3-year screening, NTD 84532; 4-year screening, NTD 110962; 5-year screening, NTD 142053; and for the control group, NTD 202979 (P < 0.05). The threshold values indicated that the ultrasound sonography screening programs were highly sensitive to screening costs in a plausible range.
CONCLUSION: Routine screening regime for gallstone disease is both medically and economically valuable. Annual screening for gallstone disease should be recommended.
Core tip: The results of this economic evaluation of screening for gallstone disease indicated that routine ultrasound sonography screening is worthwhile. We recommend that the Chinese population is screened annually for gallstone disease, regardless of whether or not they have been diagnosed with gallstone disease in the past.