Using data from a large randomised trial, researchers assessed the cost effectiveness of ultrasound screening for abdominal aortic aneurysms in 67,800 men aged 65-74 years for up to four years.
Over four years, there were 47 fewer deaths related to abdominal aortic aneurysms in the screening group than in the control group, but the additional costs incurred were 2.2m.
After adjustment, the additional cost of the screening programme was 63.39 per patient. The cost effectiveness ratio was 28,400 per life year gained. Although this figure is at the margin of acceptability according to current NHS thresholds, it is estimated to fall to around 8,000 per life year gained after 10 years, say the authors.
"The clinical analysis and this economic analysis of the MASS trial together provide clear evidence to support the cost effectiveness of this particular form of screening in elderly men," they conclude.
The clinical results will be appearing simultaneously in this week's issue of the Lancet.