INTRODUCTION: Guidelines advise esophageal motility testing for dysphagia when structural disorders are ruled out, but cost concerns impede adoption. We evaluated cost-effective positioning of esophageal motility testing in the algorithm to evaluate esophageal dysphagia.
METHODS: We developed a decision analytic model comparing 3 strategies: (i) esophageal manometry, (ii) screening impedance planimetry followed by esophageal manometry if needed, or (iii) nonalgorithmic usual care. Diagnostic test accuracy was adapted to expected rates of esophageal motility disorders in general gastroenterology populations. We modeled routine testing for all patients with nonstructural/mechanical dysphagia compared with selective testing with strong suspicion for achalasia. Cost outcomes were defined on national commercial and Medicare datasets stratified on age and sex. Health outcomes were modeled on populations with achalasia. The time horizon was 1 year.
RESULTS: Motility testing was preferred over nonalgorithmic usual care due to cost savings rather than health gains. To commercial insurers, routine esophageal manometry for nonstructural/mechanical dysphagia would be cost-saving below a reimbursed cost of $2,415. Screening impedance planimetry would be cost saving below a reimbursed cost of $1,130. The limit for reimbursed costs would be lower for patients older than 65 years to achieve cost savings mainly due to insurance. Sex did not significantly influence cost-effectiveness. Patients and insurers preferred routine screening impedance planimetry before manometry when the index of suspicion for achalasia was below 6%.
DISCUSSION: Aligning with practice guidelines, routine esophageal motility testing seems cost saving to patients and insurers compared with nonalgorithmic usual care to evaluate nonstructural/mechanical dysphagia. Choice of testing should be guided by index of suspicion.