BACKGROUND: Accurate diagnosis of patients with transient or minor neurological events can be challenging. Recent studies suggest that advanced neuroimaging can improve diagnostic accuracy in low-risk patients with transient or minor neurological symptoms, but a cost-effective emergency department diagnostic evaluation strategy remains uncertain. METHODS AND RESULTS: We constructed a decision-analytic model to evaluate 2 diagnostic evaluation strategies for patients with low-risk transient or minor neurological symptoms: (1) obtain advanced neuroimaging (magnetic resonance imaging brain and magnetic resonance angiography head and neck) on every patient or (2) current emergency department standard-of-care clinical evaluation with basic neuroimaging. Main probability variables were: proportion of patients with true ischemic events, strategy specificity and sensitivity, and recurrent stroke rate. Direct healthcare costs were included. We calculated incremental cost-effectiveness ratios, conducted sensitivity analyses, and evaluated various diagnostic test parameters primarily using a 1-year time horizon. Cost-effectiveness standards would be met if the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio was less than willingness to pay. We defined willingness to pay as $100 000 US dollars per quality-adjusted life year. Our primary and sensitivity analyses found that the advanced neuroimaging strategy was more cost-effective than emergency department standard of care. The incremental effectiveness of the advanced neuroimaging strategy was slightly less than the standard-of-care strategy, but the standard-of-care strategy was more costly. Potentially superior diagnostic approaches to the modeled advanced neuroimaging strategy would have to be >92% specific, >70% sensitive, and cost less than or equal to standard-of-care strategy’s cost. CONCLUSIONS: Obtaining advanced neuroimaging on emergency department patient with low-risk transient or minor neurological symptoms was the more cost-effective strategy in our model.
- Emergency department
- Ischemic stroke
- Transient ischemic attack
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine