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Cost-effectiveness of second-line diagnostic investigations in patients included in the DANTE trial

a randomized controlled trial of lung cancer screening with low-dose computed tomography

Lopci, Egestaa,*; Castello, Angeloa,*; Morenghi, Emanuelab; Tanzi, Darioe; Cavuto, Silviog; Lutman, Fabioc; Chiesa, Giuseppeh; Vanni, Elenad,f; Alloisio, Marcoe,f; Infante, Maurizioi

Nuclear Medicine Communications: May 2019 - Volume 40 - Issue 5 - p 508–516
doi: 10.1097/MNM.0000000000000993

Aim The aim of this study was to analyze the economic efficiency of second-line diagnostic investigations in patients with undetermined lung nodules.

Participants and methods A retrospective review of all surgical cases included in the DANTE trial from 2001 to 2006 for lung cancer screening was performed. Overall, 217 patients and 261 lung nodules were analyzed. The cohort was divided into patients investigated with PET and/or computed tomography (CT)-guided biopsy (PET-CTB protocol; N=100), compared with those assessed with serial low-dose CT scans (standard protocol; N=161). Outpatient’s and inpatient’s costs were expressed in euros and derived from the Italian National Health Service. Ineffective costs were defined as the cost of procedures that lead to avoidable surgical intervention.

Results The diagnostic accuracy of the two protocols was 91% for the standard (sensitivity 100%, specificity 91%, positive predictive value 26%, and negative predictive value 100%) and 90% for the PET-CTB protocol (sensitivity 98%, specificity 81%, positive predictive value 85%, and negative predictive value 97%). Average costs for outpatient’s diagnostics were 694 and 1.462 euros, respectively, for the standard and PET-CTB protocol. Average inpatient’s costs for both protocols were 12.121 euros. The two protocols showed comparable effectiveness in terms of outpatient’s costs (94 and 90%, respectively; P=0.252). Inpatient’s costs were effective in 36% of cases monitored according to the standard protocol compared with 85% of patients investigated with PET-CTB protocol. Ineffective costs corresponded to 64 and 15%, respectively (P<0.0001).

Conclusion Despite a higher average cost for outpatient’s diagnostics, the implementation of PET imaging with or without CT-guided needle biopsy in the workup of suspicious lung nodules results in reduced unnecessary harm and costs related to inpatient’s procedures.

aDepartment of Nuclear Medicine

bDepartment of Medical Oncology

cDepartment of Radiology

dDepartment of Thoracic Surgery

eManagement and Operation Control Unit, Humanitas Clinical and Research Center, Rozzano

fDepartment of Biomedical Science, Humanitas University, Milan

gResearch and Statistics Infrastructure, Azienda Unità Sanitaria Locale-IRCCS, Reggio Emilia

hDepartment of Thoracic Surgery, Humanitas Gavazzeni, Bergamo

iDepartment of Thoracic Surgery, AIOU, Verona, Italy

* Egesta Lopci and Angelo Castello contributed equally to the writing of this article.

Correspondence to Egesta Lopci, MD, PhD, Department of Nuclear Medicine, Humanitas Clinical and Research Hospital, Via Manzoni 56, 20089 Rozzano, Italy Tel: +39 028 224 7542; fax: +39 028 224 6693; e-mails:,

Received December 3, 2018

Received in revised form January 23, 2019

Accepted January 24, 2019

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