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Diagn Cytopathol. 2005 Aug;33(2):138-43.

HPV DNA testing in the triage of atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance (ASCUS): cost comparison of two methods.

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Department of Pathology, University of Utah School of Medicine and ARUP Laboratories, Salt Lake City, 84132, USA.


Human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA testing for triage of cervical cytologies showing atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance (ASCUS) has become the standard of practice. Currently, Hybrid Capture II (HCII) is the preferred method for ASCUS triage. In situ hybridization for HPV represents an alternative to HCII and appears to have a superior specificity but is more expensive. We compare the reimbursement rates of ASCUS triage (HPV high risk) using the methods of HCII and INFORM (in situ hybridization for HPV) in a series of 431 ASCUS patients. The patients were followed for 1 yr, during which each patient had either colposcopic biopsy or follow-up cervical cytology after ASCUS HPV DNA triage. Eighty-nine patients were excluded from the analysis because of incomplete follow-up. The HPV triage percentages, colposcopic biopsy positivity rates and cervical cytology positivity percentages were calculated for each method. The reimbursement rates of the tests/procedures used in the analysis were those in effect at the University of Utah in 2003. The total triage and follow-up reimbursement costs were calculated for HCII and INFORM and compared.HCII referred 19.9% of patients to colposcopy, with a biopsy positivity rate of 25.6% for dysplasia. INFORM referred 11.8% of patients to colposcopy, of whom 34% had a biopsy diagnosis of dysplasia. HCII negative cases revealed 19% to have ASCUS or higher on the follow-up cervical cytology, while 19.9% of INFORM negative cases had a reading of ASCUS or higher at follow-up cytologic examination. The 1-yr HPV DNA triage and follow-up reimbursements for HCII were 316,942.00 US dollars per 1,000 women, and for the INFORM methodology, the reimbursements were 369,484.00 US dollars per 1,000 women. The INFORM method was associated with higher specificity and sent fewer (41%) patients to colposcopy than did HCII. Although this smaller referral rate reduced reimbursement costs associated with colposcopy, the increased reimbursement paid for follow-up cytologies and office visits of HPV DNA negative patient and the greater cost of the INFORM test results in higher overall reimbursement for INFORM. Based on these costs and diagnostic accuracies, it appears that the INFORM HPV technology represents a viable option to HCII ASCUS triage. INFORM HPV appears to be 16% more expensive than HCII but has the advantage of sending 41% fewer women to colposcopy.

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