Cost Comparison of Auditory Brainstem Response versus Magnetic Resonance Imaging Screening of Acoustic Neuroma
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The cost-effectiveness of current diagnostic approaches employed in patients with suspected acoustic neuroma was evaluated. Currently, patients with signs and symptoms suggestive of acoustic neuroma, such as sudden unilateral hearing loss and/or tinnitus, undergo auditory brainstem response (ABR) screening tests to rule out this condition. If the ABR is normal, acoustic neuroma can be ruled out. However, if the ABR is abnormal, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography is necessary to confirm the diagnosis. When one considers the total costs of this screening approach, one can ask whether straight MRI screening of all of these patients would be a more cost-effective approach to diagnosing this condition. A retrospective chart review of patient records obtained from the acoustic diagnostics laboratory at Hotel Dieu Hospital, Kingston, Ontario, was performed. A database of patients who have undergone ABR testing over the past 2 years was compiled and analyzed to assess how many of them went on to receive MRI. The total costs (based on Ontario Health Insurance Plan [OHIP] fee schedule rates) of this approach were compared with the estimated costs of straight MRI screening performed on the same patient population. By making such an analysis, decisions regarding the most cost-effective approach to screening for acoustic neuroma can be objectively assessed.
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