, Volume 59, Issue 8, pp 727–736 | Cite as

Cost-effectiveness analysis of a non-contrast screening MRI protocol for vestibular schwannoma in patients with asymmetric sensorineural hearing loss

  • Matthew G. Crowson
  • Daniel J. Rocke
  • Jenny K. Hoang
  • Jane L. Weissman
  • David M. Kaylie
Diagnostic Neuroradiology



We aimed to determine if a non-contrast screening MRI is cost-effective compared to a full MRI protocol with contrast for the evaluation of vestibular schwannomas.


A decision tree was constructed to evaluate full MRI and screening MRI strategies for patients with asymmetric sensorineural hearing loss. If a patient were to have a positive screening MRI, s/he received a full MRI. Vestibular schwannoma prevalence, MRI specificity and sensitivity, and gadolinium anaphylaxis incidence were obtained through literature review. Institutional charge data were obtained using representative patient cohorts. One-way and probabilistic sensitivity analyses were completed to determine CE model threshold points for MRI performance characteristics and charges.


The mean charge for a full MRI with contrast was significantly higher than a screening MRI ($4089 ± 1086 versus $2872 ± 741; p < 0.05). The screening MRI protocol was more cost-effective than a full MRI protocol with a willingness-to-pay from $0 to 20,000 USD. Sensitivity analyses determined that the screening protocol dominated when the screening MRI charge was less than $4678, and the imaging specificity exceeded 78.2%. The screening MRI protocol also dominated when vestibular schwannoma prevalence was varied between 0 and 1000 in 10,000 people.


A screening MRI protocol is more cost-effective than a full MRI with contrast in the diagnostic evaluation of a vestibular schwannoma. A screening MRI likely also confers benefits of shorter exam time and no contrast use. Further investigation is needed to confirm the relative performance of screening protocols for vestibular schwannomas.


MRI Cerebellopontine angle Vestibular schwannoma Asymmetric sensorineural hearing loss 



The authors would like to thank Duke Financial Services for providing charge data and interpretations.

Compliance with ethical standards


No funding was received for this project.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

For this type of study formal consent is not required.

Informed consent

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthew G. Crowson
    • 1
  • Daniel J. Rocke
    • 1
  • Jenny K. Hoang
    • 2
  • Jane L. Weissman
    • 3
  • David M. Kaylie
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck SurgeryDuke University Medical CenterDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Department of RadiologyDuke University Medical CenterDurhamUSA
  3. 3.Professor Emerita of Diagnostic RadiologyOregon Health Sciences UniversityPortlandUSA

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