Comparison of CT, MRI, and F-18 FDG PET/CT for initial N-staging of oral squamous cell carcinoma: a cost-effectiveness analysis.

Burian, Egon; Palla, Benjamin; Callahan, Nicholas; Pyka, Thomas; Wolff, Constantin; von Schacky, Claudio E; Schmid, Annabelle; Froelich, Matthias F; Rübenthaler, Johannes; Makowski, Marcus R; Gassert, Felix G (2022). Comparison of CT, MRI, and F-18 FDG PET/CT for initial N-staging of oral squamous cell carcinoma: a cost-effectiveness analysis. (In Press). European journal of nuclear medicine and molecular imaging Springer 10.1007/s00259-022-05843-4

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Treatment of oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) is based on clinical exam, biopsy, and a precise imaging-based TNM-evaluation. A high sensitivity and specificity for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and F-18 FDG PET/CT are reported for N-staging. Nevertheless, staging of oral squamous cell carcinoma is most often based on computed tomography (CT) scans. This study aims to evaluate cost-effectiveness of MRI and PET/CT compared to standard of care imaging in initial staging of OSCC within the US Healthcare System.


A decision model was constructed using quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) and overall costs of different imaging strategies including a CT of the head, neck, and the thorax, MRI of the neck with CT of the thorax, and whole body F-18 FDG PET/CT using Markov transition simulations for different disease states. Input parameters were derived from literature and willingness to pay (WTP) was set to US $100,000/QALY. Deterministic sensitivity analysis of diagnostic parameters and costs was performed. Monte Carlo modeling was used for probabilistic sensitivity analysis.


In the base-case scenario, total costs were at US $239,628 for CT, US $240,001 for MRI, and US $239,131 for F-18 FDG PET/CT whereas the model yielded an effectiveness of 5.29 QALYs for CT, 5.30 QALYs for MRI, and 5.32 QALYs for F-18 FDG PET/CT respectively. F-18 FDG PET/CT was the most cost-effective strategy over MRI as well as CT, and MRI was the cost-effective strategy over CT. Deterministic and probabilistic sensitivity analysis showed high robustness of the model with incremental cost effectiveness ratio remaining below US $100,000/QALY for a wide range of variability of input parameters.


F-18 FDG PET/CT is the most cost-effective strategy in the initial N-staging of OSCC when compared to MRI and CT. Despite less routine use, both whole body PET/CT and MRI are cost-effective modalities in the N-staging of OSCC. Based on these findings, the implementation of PET/CT for initial staging could be suggested to help reduce costs while increasing effectiveness in OSCC.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Radiology, Neuroradiology and Nuclear Medicine (DRNN) > Clinic of Nuclear Medicine

UniBE Contributor:

Pyka, Thomas


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health








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Date Deposited:

25 May 2022 13:25

Last Modified:

25 May 2022 13:33

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Uncontrolled Keywords:

CT Cost effectiveness analysis Head and neck cancer MRI Oncology PET/CT




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