Contrast Enhanced Ultrasound in focal liver lesions – a cost efficiency study

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Contrast Enhanced Ultrasound in focal liver lesions – a cost efficiency study

Roxana Sirli, Ioan Sporea, Alina Martie, Alina Popescu


Contrast enhanced ultrasound (CEUS) has a well established role for the evaluation of focal liver lesions (FLL). The aim of our paper was to evaluate if CEUS is a cost-efficient method for the first line evaluation of FLL. Material and method: We performed a prospective study that included all the CEUS evaluations performed in our Department during a 6 months period (September 2009-March 2010). CEUS evaluation was performed with a Siemens Acuson S2000TM Ultrasound System following an intravenous bolus injection of 2.4 ml SonoVue® (Bracco). A CEUS examination was considered conclusive if, following contrast, the FLL had a typical enhancement pattern (after EFSUMB Guidelines 2008), allowing its classification as hemangioma, FNH, adenoma, hepatocellular carcinoma, metastasis, fatty-free area, focal fatty infiltration. We compared the costs of a CEUS positive diagnosis, to the cost of contrast CT and/or contrast MRI positive diagnosis. We also included the additional costs of CT and/or MRI, if CEUS was not conclusive. The cost of CEUS was calculated as the cost of 1/2 vial of SonoVue + the cost of abdominal ultrasound (150 + 30 = 180 RON). The costs of contrast CT scan and MRI were 285 and 650 RON respectively (mean costs practiced in Timisoara). Results: In our study were included 316 FLL: 163 (51.6 %) in patients without hepatitis and 153 (48.4 %) in patients with chronic hepatopathies (in 133 cases liver cirrhosis and in 20 cases chronic hepatitis). CEUS was conclusive in 250 (79.1%) of the 316 cases, the cost for the evaluation of these patients being 45,000 RON. For the other 66 patients, the diagnosis cost will include the cost of CEUS + the cost of contrast CT: 30,690 RON. If contrast MRI was used for the differential diagnosis, the cost would be 54,780 RON. So the total cost of diagnosing 316 FLL would be 75,690 RON or 99,780 RON. If contrast CT would be used as the first line diagnosis for the 316 FLL, the cost would be 90,060 RON, by CEUS saving 14,370 RON, or 45.5 RON/lesion (using contrast CT for the differential diagnosis). If contrast MRI would be used as the first line diagnosis, the cost would be 205,400 RON, by CEUS saving 105,620 RON, or 334.2 RON/lesion (using contrast MRI for the differential diagnosis). Conclusion: CEUS is a cost-efficient method as a first line diagnosis of FLL as compared to first line contrast-CT or first-line MRI.