To compare the cost-effectiveness of adding either a general or a selective ultrasound screening program to the routine clinical examination for developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) with use of the data from a large, randomized study of 11925 newborns.
Our previous study comparing the clinical outcomes of three strategies for screening infants for DDH suggested (but results were not statistically significant) that general ultrasound screening resulted in fewer children requiring hospitalization and surgery for DDH than did a strategy based on ultrasound screening of the 11.8% of infants considered to be at increased risk of DDH or one with no ultrasound screening. General ultrasound screening led to early splinting of 3.4% of the newborns compared with 2.0% for the selectively screened group and 1.8% for the group not receiving ultrasound screening. Using these data, we decided on sequences and intervals of diagnostic and therapeutic actions considered to be sufficient for each regimen. We applied estimates of the costs of screening, treatment of DDH discovered early and late, and follow-up examinations to arrive at total program costs for each strategy.
Total program costs were similar for each of the three screening strategies (costs varied by <5%). However, treatment of late cases accounted for only 22% of total costs in the group undergoing general screening vs 65% in the two latter groups. The cost estimates were sensitive to several variables. Application of the data to a hypothetical ultrasound program in which all girls and only boys at increased risk for DDH underwent an ultrasound examination showed substantially reduced total program costs.
Application of costs from other centers to our data regarding frequency of clinical outcomes may yield different comparative program costs. If the findings of our clinical study can be generalized to other centers, a strategy of screening all girls and boys with risk factors for DDH may be the most cost-effective approach.(Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1995;149:643-648)