Purpose To determine the cost-effectiveness of early referral by the general practitioner for magnetic resonance (MR) imaging compared with usual care alone in patients aged 18-45 years with traumatic knee symptoms. Materials and Methods Cost-utility analysis was performed parallel to a prospective multicenter randomized controlled trial in Dutch general practice. A total of 356 patients with traumatic knee symptoms were included from November 2012 to December 2015 (mean age, 33 years ± 8 [standard deviation]; 222 men [62%]). Patients were randomly assigned to usual care (n = 177; MR imaging was not performed, but patients were referred to an orthopedic surgeon when conservative treatment was unsatisfactory) or MR imaging (n = 179) within 2 weeks after injury. Main outcome measures were quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) and costs from a healthcare and societal perspective. Multiple imputation was used for missing data. The Student t test was used to assess differences in mean QALYs, costs, and net benefits. Results Mean QALYs were 0.888 in the MR imaging group and 0.899 in the usual care group (P = .255). Healthcare costs per patient were higher in the MR imaging group (€1109) than in the usual care group (€837) (P = .050), mainly due to higher costs for MR imaging, with no reduction in the number of referrals to an orthopedic surgeon in the MR imaging group. Conclusion MR imaging referral by the general practitioner was not cost-effective in patients with traumatic knee symptoms; in fact, MR imaging led to more healthcare costs, without an improvement in health outcomes.

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Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1148/radiol.2018171383, hdl.handle.net/1765/109564
Journal Radiology
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Oudenaarde, K, Swart, N.M, Bloem, J.L, Bierma-Zeinstra, S.M, Algra, P.R. (Paul R.), Bindels, P.J.E, … van den Hout, W.B. (2018). General Practitioners Referring Adults to MR Imaging for Knee Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial to Assess Cost-effectiveness. Radiology, 288(1), 170–176. doi:10.1148/radiol.2018171383