To systematically review all published cost-effectiveness analyses (CEAs) of imaging technologies in children.
We identified all CEAs involving fetal and pediatric imaging included in a publicly available repository of CEAs published since 1976. Information on publication characteristics, methods, costs, quality of life weights, and incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs) was recorded for each article.
Of 480 diagnostic CEAs, only 10 focused on fetal and pediatric imaging. The 10 studies reported 43 quality of life weights based on previously published adult data (n = 20, 46.5%); pregnant women perspective (n = 11, 25.6%), and treating physician perspective (n = 12, 27.9%). None of the studies elicited quality of life weights from children nor took into consideration the postnatal impact of disease on family’s quality of life. All studies used a health care payer perspective without incorporating patients’ incurred cost such as loss wages or travel related cost. Of 37 ICERs, 7 (18.9%) were cost saving and 6 (16.2%) were more expensive and less effective. The remaining ICERs ranged from $1,400 per quality-adjusted life-year (MRI versus ultrasound in newborns with moderate risk of occult spinal dysraphism) to $10,000,000 per quality-adjusted life-year (CT versus no imaging in children at low risk for craniosynostosis).
There is a striking paucity of cost-effectiveness studies evaluating imaging technologies in children. Existing studies do not incorporate the patient and family perspectives regarding utilities (eg, impact of child’s disease on families’ quality of life) or cost (eg, loss wages, travel, time off). Future studies should elicit and incorporate the impact of disease on families to better reflect real-world scenarios.