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Cost-effectiveness of alternative strategies for interferon-γ release assays and tuberculin skin test in tuberculous uveitis
  1. Marcus Ang1,2,3,
  2. Hai V Nguyen4,
  3. Sieh Yean Kiew1,
  4. Shu Chen4,
  5. Soon-Phaik Chee1,2,3,
  6. Eric Finkelstein4
  1. 1Singapore National Eye Centre, Singapore, Singapore
  2. 2Singapore Eye Research Institute, Singapore, Singapore
  3. 3Department of Ophthalmology, Yong Yoo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore
  4. 4Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, Singapore, Singapore
  1. Correspondence to Professor Soon-Phaik Chee, Singapore National Eye Centre, 11 Third Hospital Avenue, Singapore 168751, Singapore; chee.soon.phaik{at}


Background Although tuberculous uveitis remains a major cause of ocular morbidity in the developing world, there is no consensus on which diagnostic test or testing strategy is the most cost effective. In this study we carried out a cost-effectiveness analysis to determine the most cost-effective diagnostic test strategy.

Methods In this prospective study, we recruited 102 patients from Singapore National Eye Centre with signs suggestive of tuberculous uveitis. Using prospective data from this cohort and from published meta-analyses, we modelled the incremental cost effectiveness of the following strategies: tuberculin skin test (TST) only; interferon-γ release assay (IGRA) only; IGRA following a positive TST result; and dual-test strategy, conducting TST and IGRA at presentation. Incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs) were calculated for each strategy and analysed using a willingness-to-pay threshold of $50 000 per quality-adjusted life year (QALY) gained.

Results In our population, the least cost effective was the IGRA-only strategy. The dual-test strategy was the most cost effective, with an improvement of 0.017 QALY at an incremental cost of $190 relative to the TST-only strategy (ICER $11 500); while the TST-only strategy was more cost effective than the third strategy, using IGRA following a positive TST result (ICER $3610). This remained consistent while varying the costs of IGRA and TST, the incidence of tuberculosis and tuberculous uveitis, as well as the diagnostic accuracy of IGRA and TST found in previous studies in various populations.

Conclusions The dual-test strategy (performing TST and IGRA at presentation) was the most cost effective strategy for the diagnosis of tuberculous uveitis in our population.

  • Diagnostic tests/Investigation
  • Infection
  • Inflammation

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