Routine intravenous pyelograms before hysterectomy in cases of benign disease: possibly effective, definitely expensive.
Intraoperative ureteral injuries are potentially serious iatrogenic complications. Routine preoperative intravenous pyelograms might decrease the risk of such injuries during hysterectomy in cases of nonmalignant disease, but no prospective studies have been conducted to determine their effectiveness. Since gynecologists must frequently decide whether to obtain pyelograms, we used decision analysis to determine how costly routine pyelograms would be and under what circumstance pyelograms might be especially justifiable. Our cost-effectiveness study was based on decision analysis techniques, with the best available estimates from the literature, and on expert opinion. These estimates were varied over a broad range during a sensitivity analysis so as not to bias the results. At a baseline ureteral incidence injury rate of 0.5%, the marginal cost-effectiveness ratio indicates 833 pyelograms would be obtained to prevent a single injury and approximately $3.33 million would be spent to prevent a single death. As the probability of an injury increases, the marginal cost-effectiveness ratio is less dependent on the test efficacy and is more modest. Since abnormal ureteral anatomy probably predicts ureteral injury, we suggest selectively obtaining preoperative pyelograms only when the probability of an abnormality is high.
Simel, DL; Matchar, DB; Piscitelli, JT
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