Economic evaluation of ultrasonography in the diagnosis and management of developmental hip dysplasia in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Gray A., Elbourne D., Dezateux C., King A., Quinn A., Gardner F.
BACKGROUND: Clinical neonatal hip screening is performed to identify hip instability and the increased risk of later hip subluxation and dislocation. However, there is minimal information regarding the costs of such screening to parents and health services. The aim of this study was to assess these costs in association with the use of ultrasonography for the diagnosis and management of neonatal hip instability. METHODS: We conducted a prospective economic analysis in conjunction with a randomized clinical trial (the Hip Trial), for which 629 patients were recruited from thirty-three centers in the United Kingdom and Ireland to be randomized to undergo either ultrasonographic hip examination (314 patients) or clinical assessment alone (315 patients). Information on clinical outcomes was obtained from hospital records and records from the Hip Trial. Resource information was obtained from hospital records and from repeated periodic cross-sectional surveys of the families. Typical unit costs were applied to resource information to obtain a cost per patient, and the mean costs in the two study groups were calculated and compared. RESULTS: The average overall health-service cost per patient (and standard deviation) was $1298 +/- $2168 in the ultrasonography group and $1488 +/- $2912 in the group that underwent clinical assessment alone, a net difference of -$190 (95% confidence interval, -$630 to $250). Families in which the infant was examined with ultrasonography had significantly lower costs associated with splinting: $92 compared with $118 in the group that underwent clinical assessment alone, a mean difference of -$26 (95% confidence interval, -$46 to -$6). Costs associated with surgery and total costs to the family were also slightly, but not significantly, lower in the ultrasonography group. CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that use of ultrasonography in the management of neonates with clinical hip instability is unlikely to impose an increased cost burden and may reduce costs to health services and families.