Test sequence in the management of gastrointestinal bleeding
submitted: 29 January 2011
accepted after revision: 17 June 2011
23 December 2011 (online)
Background and study aim: A large variety of test procedures is available to diagnose and treat patients with suspected gastrointestinal bleeding. The aim of the study was to investigate which test sequence should be utilized in managing gastrointestinal bleeding.
Methods: For each endoscopic, radiologic, or laboratory test procedure, professional fees and facility costs were estimated based on payments allowed by the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services during the fiscal year 2010. A threshold analysis was used to compare the costs associated with different test sequences of varying clinical scenarios.
Results: A threshold represents the lowest expected probability of success, for which a test would still be indicated. In a work-up including all possible management options, the threshold associated with laboratory tests and gastric lavage was 1 %, esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) 8 %, colonoscopy 9 %, nuclear scan 9 %, enteroscopy 11 %, computed tomography (CT) angiography 14 %, capsule endoscopy 23 %, and angiography with transcatheter embolization 25 %. Varying sets of thresholds were calculated for different clinical scenarios. The thresholds of EGD and colonoscopy remained low in most scenarios. In sensitivity analysis, rising risk of complications or costs of a procedure also lead to rising threshold values for it, potentially rendering the particular procedure untenable.
Conclusions: A low threshold indicated a preferred management option that should be used early rather than late in a sequence of multiple possible test procedures to work up instances of gastrointestinal bleeding.
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