OBJECTIVES:

We compared cost-effectiveness of cranial computed tomography (CT), fast sequence magnetic resonance imaging (fsMRI), and ultrasonography measurement of optic nerve sheath diameter (ONSD) for suspected acute shunt failure from the perspective of a health care organization.

METHODS:

We modeled 4 diagnostic imaging strategies: (1) CT scan, (2) fsMRI, (3) screening ONSD by using point of care ultrasound (POCUS) first, combined with CT, and (4) screening ONSD by using POCUS first, combined with fsMRI. All patients received an initial plain radiographic shunt series (SS). Short- and long-term costs of radiation-induced cancer were assessed with a Markov model. Effectiveness was measured as quality-adjusted life-years. Utilities and inputs for clinical variables were obtained from published literature. Sensitivity analyses were performed to evaluate the effects of parameter uncertainty.

RESULTS:

At a previous probability of shunt failure of 30%, a screening POCUS in patients with a normal SS was the most cost-effective. For children with abnormal SS or ONSD measurement, fsMRI was the preferred option over CT. Performing fsMRI on all patients would cost $27 627 to gain 1 additional quality-adjusted life-year compared with CT. An imaging pathway that involves CT alone was dominated by ONSD and fsMRI because it was more expensive and less effective.

CONCLUSIONS:

In children with low pretest probability of cranial shunt failure, an ultrasonographic measurement of ONSD is the preferred initial screening test. fsMRI is the more cost-effective, definitive imaging test when compared with cranial CT.

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