Clinical and Payer-Based Analysis of Value of Dual-Energy Computed Tomography for Workup of Incidental Abdominal Findings

Malak Itani, Brian W. Bresnahan, Kenneth Rice, Martin L. Gunn, Sherry S. Wang, Jonathan W. Revels, Achille Mileto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Objective: To perform a clinical and payer-based analysis of the value of dual-energy computed tomography (DECT) for workup of incidental abdominal findings. Methods: This was a single-center, retrospectively designed, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act-compliant study approved by our institutional review board. Sixty-nine examinations in 69 patients (45 men, 24 women; mean age, 57.7 years) who underwent single-phase postcontrast abdominal DECT studies between January 1, 2011, and December 31, 2017, were included. Two radiologists, blinded to study objective and design, reviewed all cases and identified incidental abdominal findings needing further imaging. All incidental findings were reviewed by 2 other investigators, who determined whether an imaging-based diagnosis could be made using DECT virtual noncontrast images and iodine maps. Additional studies and associated payer-reimbursement amounts avoided by use of DECT were estimated. All imaging costs were estimated based on the US Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services reimbursement amounts. Results: Thirty-four incidental findings (renal mass, n = 20; adrenal nodule, n = 8; pancreatic cystic lesions, n = 3; others, n = 3) were identified in 19 (27.5%) of 69 patients. Dual-energy computed tomography characterized 27 incidental findings in 15 patients and accounted for cost savings of 15 additional imaging examinations (abdominal magnetic resonance imaging, n = 11; abdominal computed tomography, n = 4). Based on Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services reimbursement amounts, we estimated that, by abolishing the need for additional imaging use, DECT saved US $84.95 per patient. Conclusions: Dual-energy computed tomography can provide an imaging-based diagnosis of incidental abdominal findings, otherwise incompletely characterized on routine abdominal computed tomography, in approximately 21% of patients. In select patients, the monetary savings from abolishing additional imaging may reduce payer costs associated with use of DECT.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)605-611
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of computer assisted tomography
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019


  • abdominal imaging
  • cost analysis
  • dual-energy CT
  • incidental findings
  • payer-based analysis


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