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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2014 Sep;99(9):3263-74. doi: 10.1210/jc.2013-3483. Epub 2014 May 29.

Cost-effectiveness of FDG-PET/CT for cytologically indeterminate thyroid nodules: a decision analytic approach.

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Departments of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine (D.V., W.J.G.O., L.F.d.G.-O.), Health Evidence (E.M.M.A.), Internal Medicine Section of Endocrinology (R.T.N.-M.), Internal Medicine (J.W.A.S.), and Surgery (J.H.W.d.W.), Radboudumc, 6500 HB Nijmegen, The Netherlands.



Patients with thyroid nodules of indeterminate cytology undergo diagnostic surgery according to current guidelines. In 75% of patients, the nodule is benign. In these patients, surgery was unnecessary and unbeneficial because complications may occur. Preoperative fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography/computed tomography (FDG-PET/CT) was found to have a very high negative predictive value (96%) and might therefore avoid futile surgery, complications, and costs. In the United States, two molecular tests of cytology material are routinely used for this purpose.


Five-year cost-effectiveness for routine implementation of FDG-PET/CT was evaluated in adult patients with indeterminate fine-needle aspiration cytology and compared with surgery in all patients and both molecular tests.


A Markov decision model was developed to synthesize the evidence on cost-effectiveness about the four alternative strategies. The model was probabilistically analyzed. One-way sensitivity analyses of deterministic input variables likely to influence outcome were performed.


The model was representative for adult patients with cytologically indeterminate thyroid nodules.


The discounted incremental net monetary benefit (iNMB), the efficiency decision rule containing outcomes as quality-adjusted life-years and (direct) medical cost, of implementation of FDG-PET/CT is displayed.


Full implementation of FDG-PET/CT resulted in 40% surgery for benign nodules, compared with 75% in the conventional approach, without a difference in recurrence free and overall survival. The FDG-PET/CT modality is the more efficient technology, with a mean iNMB of €3684 compared with surgery in all. Also, compared with a gene expression classifier test and a molecular marker panel, the mean iNMB of FDG-PET/CT was €1030 and €3851, respectively, and consequently the more efficient alternative.


Full implementation of preoperative FDG-PET/CT in patients with indeterminate thyroid nodules could prevent up to 47% of current unnecessary surgery leading to lower costs and a modest increase of health-related quality of life. Compared with an approach with diagnostic surgery in all patients and both molecular tests, it is the least expensive alternative with similar effectiveness as the gene-expression classifier.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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