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Radiol Med. 1998 Apr;95(4):353-6.

[Cost analysis of ultrasound-guided transrectal needle biopsy in prostatic carcinoma].

[Article in Italian]

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Dipartimento di Radiologia Clinica, Ospedale Santa Maria dei Battuti, Treviso.



The literature mortality and morbidity rates from prostatic carcinoma prompt to the better use of some routine diagnostic tools such as transrectal ultrasound-guided biopsy. We evaluated the overall cost of transrectal ultrasound biopsy (TRUSB) of the prostate and investigated the economic impact of the procedures currently used to diagnose prostatic carcinoma.


The total cost of TRUSB was calculated with reference to 247 procedures performed in 1996. The following cost factors were evaluated: personnel, materials, maintenance-equipment depreciation, energy consumption and hospital overheads. A literature review was also carried out to check if our extrapolated costs corresponded to those of other authors worldwide and to consider them in the wider framework of the cost effectiveness of the strategies for the early diagnosis of prostatic cancer.


The overall cost of TRUSB was Itl. 249,000, obtained by adding together the costs of: personnel (Itl. 160,000); materials (Itl. 59,000); equipment maintenance and depreciation (Itl. 12,400); energy consumption (Itl. 100); hospital overheads (Itl. 17,500). The literature review points out TRUSB as a clinically invasive tool for diagnosing prostatic carcinoma whose cost-effectiveness is debated. Cadaver studies report the presence of cancer cells in the prostate of 50% of 70-year-old men, while extrapolations calculate a morbidity from prostatic carcinoma in 9.5% of 50-year-old men. It is therefore obvious that randomized prostatic biopsies, methods apart, are very likely to be positive. This probability varies with the patient's age, the level of prostate specific antigen (PSA), the density of PSA/cm3 of prostate volume (PSAD), and the positivity of exploration and/or transrectal ultrasound findings.


Despite the strict application of all these criteria and the critical assessment of the patient's general conditions, TRUSB is indicated for 16% of the male population over 50, with obvious implications. It has been recently suggested that the ratio between free PSA (antigen fraction of the total serum PSA) and total PSA could be clinically useful as an effective predict of TRUSB positivity or negativity. Free PSA evaluation might thus help reduce the number of TRUSB.

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