Background: We examined the cost-effectiveness of 2- and 3-dimensional computerized tomography (CT) colonography as a screening test for colorectal neoplasia.
Methods: We created a Markov model of the natural history of colorectal cancer. Effectiveness of screening was based upon the diagnostic accuracy of tests in detecting polyps and cancer.
Results: CT colonography every 5 or 10 yr was effective and cost-effective relative to no screening. Optical colonoscopy dominates 2-dimensional CT colonography done every 5 or 10 yr. Optical colonoscopy is weakly dominant over 3-dimensional CT colonography done every 10 yr. 3-D CT colonography done every 5 yr is more effective than optical colonoscopy every 10 yr, but costs an incremental 156,000 dollars per life-year gained. Sensitivity analyses show that test costs, accuracy, and adherence are critical determinants of incremental cost-effectiveness. 3-D CT colonography every 5 yr is a dominant strategy if optical colonoscopy costs 1.6 times more than CT colonography. However, optical colonoscopy is a dominant strategy if the sensitivity of CT colonography for 1 cm adenomas is 83% or lower.
Conclusions: CT colonography is an effective screening test for colorectal neoplasia. However, it is more expensive and generally less effective than optical colonoscopy. CT colonography can be reasonably cost-effective when the diagnostic accuracy of CT colonography is high, as with primary 3-dimensional technology, and if costs are about 60% of those of optical colonoscopy. Overall, CT colonography technology will need to improve its accuracy and reliability to be a cost-effective screening option.