The Value Added of Advanced Imaging in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex Pathology.
PURPOSE: Pathology of the triangular fibrocartilage complex is a prevalent cause of ulnar-sided wrist pain that presents a diagnostic challenge. We hypothesized that a history and physical examination (H&P) would be more cost-effective alone or with diagnostic injection than with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or magnetic resonance arthrogram (MRA) in the diagnosis and treatment of a symptomatic triangular fibrocartilage complex abnormality. METHODS: A simple-chain decision analysis model was constructed to assess simulated subjects with ulnar-sided wrist pain and normal radiographs using several diagnostic algorithms: H&P alone, H&P + injection, H&P with delayed advanced imaging (MRI or MRA), and H&P + injection with delayed advanced imaging (MRI or MRA). Three years after diagnosis, effectiveness was calculated in Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand-adjusted life years. Costs were extracted from a commercial insurance database using US dollars. A probabilistic sensitivity analysis with 10,000 second-order trials with sampling of parameter distributions was performed. One-way and 2-way sensitivity analyses were performed. RESULTS: All strategies had similar mean effectiveness between 2.228 and 2.232 Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand-adjusted life years, with mean costs ranging from $5,584 (H&P alone) to $5,980 (H&P, injection, and MRA). History and physical examination alone or with injection were the most cost-effective strategies. History and physical examination alone was the most preferred diagnostic strategy, though H&P + injection and H&P with delayed MRA were preferred with adjustments in willingness-to-pay and parameter inputs. As willingness-to-pay increased considerably (>$65,000 per Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand-adjusted life year), inclusion of MRA became the most favorable strategy. CONCLUSIONS: Advanced imaging adds costs and provides minimal increases in effectiveness in the diagnosis and treatment of a symptomatic triangular fibrocartilage complex abnormality. The most cost-effective strategy is H&P, with or without diagnostic injection. Magnetic resonance arthrogram may be favored in situations with a high willingness-to-pay or poor examination characteristics. TYPE OF STUDY/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Economic/Decision Analysis IV.
Cunningham, DJ; Pidgeon, TS; Saltzman, EB; Mather, RC; Ruch, DS
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