Economic impact of spectral body imaging in diagnosis of patients suspected for occult cancer


Background: Based on prior studies spectral CT has shown a higher sensitivity for malignant lesions than conventional CT at the cost of lower specificity. For the radiologists, it also offers a higher degree of certainty in the diagnosis of benign lesions. The objective of this study was to evaluate the economic impact of spectral CT in patients suspected of occult cancer in a medical center in Denmark.

Methods: This study was a secondary analysis using de-identified data from a prospective study of patients receiving a contrast-enhanced spectral CT scan. Based on suggested follow-up examinations on both spectral CT and contrast-enhanced CT, costs from a payer’s perspective were determined using unit costs obtained from national databases.

Results: The dataset contained 400 patients. Overall, 203 follow-up procedures were eliminated based on spectral data reading. The largest reduction in suggested follow-up procedures was found for the kidney (83%), followed by the liver (66%), adrenal glands (60%), and pancreas (42%). The total estimated costs for suggested follow-up procedures based on spectral data reading were €155,219, 25.2% (€52,384) less than that of conventional CT reading.

Conclusion: Our results provide support for spectral body imaging as an advanced imaging modality for suspected occult cancer. A substantial number of follow-up diagnostic procedures could be eliminated based on spectral data reading, which would result in significant cost savings.