The purpose of our study was to determine the cost-effectiveness of radiography and MRI-based imaging strategies for the initial diagnosis of sacroiliitis in a hypothetical population with suspected axial spondyloarthritis.
Materials and methods
A decision analytic model from the health care system perspective for patients with inflammatory back pain suggestive of axial spondyloarthritis was used to evaluate the incremental cost-effectiveness of 3 imaging strategies for the sacroiliac joints over a 3-year horizon: radiography, MRI, and radiography followed by MRI. Comprehensive literature search and expert opinion provided input data on cost, probability, and utility estimates. The primary effectiveness outcome was quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs), with a willingness-to-pay threshold set to $100,000/QALY gained (2018 American dollars).
Radiography was the least costly strategy ($46,220). Radiography followed by MRI was the most effective strategy over a 3-year course (2.64 QALYs). Radiography was the most cost-effective strategy. MRI-based and radiography followed by MRI-based strategies were not found to be cost-effective imaging options for this patient population. Radiography remained the most cost-effective strategy over all willingness-to-pay thresholds up to $100,000.
Radiography is the most cost-effective imaging strategy for the initial diagnosis of sacroiliitis in patients with inflammatory back pain suspicious for axial spondyloarthritis.