Successful breast conserving cancer surgeries come along with tumor free resection margins and account for cosmetic outcome. Positive margins increase the likelihood of tumor recurrence. Intra-operative fluorescence molecular imaging (IFMI) aims to focus surgery on malignant tissue thus substantially lowering the presence of positive margins as compared with standard techniques of breast conservation (ST). A goal of this paper is to assess the incremental number of surgeries and costs of IFMI vs. ST.
We developed a decision analytical model and applied it for an early evaluation approach. Given uncertainty we considered that IFMI might reduce the proportion of positive margins found by ST from all to none and this proportion is assumed to be reduced to 10% for the base case. Inputs included data from the literature and a range of effect estimates. For the costs of IFMI, respective cost components were added to those of ST.
The base case reduction lowered number of surgeries (mean [95% confidence interval]) by 0.22 [0.15; 0.30] and changed costs (mean [95% confidence interval]) by €-663 [€-1,584; €50]. A tornado diagram identified the Diagnosis Related Group (DRG) costs, the proportion of positive margins of ST, the staff time saving factor and the duration of frozen section analysis (FSA) as important determinants of this cost.
These early results indicate that IFMI may be more effective than ST and through the reduction of positive margins it is possible to save follow-up surgeries-indicating further health risk-and to save costs through this margin reduction and the avoidance of FSA.