The findings could have both cost and patient care benefits, as patients could be treated prophylactically for subsequent strokes, presenter Dr. Daniel Puhr-Westerheide of Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and colleagues noted in the study abstract.
For the study, Puhr-Westerheide's team explored the cost-effectiveness of short-protocol brain MRI after negative noncontrast CT for identifying minor strokes in emergency department patients with mild or unspecific neurological symptoms. The group used a Markov model to assess the cost-effectiveness of this strategy, with willingness to pay set at $100,000 per quality-adjusted life year (QALY); the model was based on a simulated follow-up time frame of 30 years.
The investigators found that using short-protocol MRI in this manner lowered costs from $27,109 for a protocol that consisted of CT only to $26,304 and boosted patients' quality of life years from 14.25 in the CT-only group to 14.31 in the short-protocol MRI group.
"Additional short-protocol MRI in emergency patients with mild and unspecific neurological symptoms enables timely secondary prophylaxis through detection of minor strokes, resulting in lower costs and higher cumulative QALYs," Puhr-Westerheide and colleagues concluded.