Objective: To use activity-based costing techniques to compare see-and-treat with conventional evaluation and treatment of women presenting with a screening Papanicolaou smear demonstrating high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion (SIL). Methods: A total of 4000 theoretical patients were assumed to be evaluated and treated following one of four management algorithms: conventional algorithm I, with colposcopy and directed biopsies, followed by cryotherapy or cold-knife conization; conventional algorithm II, substituting the loop electrosurgical excision procedure for cold-knife conization; conventional algorithm III, substituting the loop electrosurgical excision procedure for cold-knife conization and cryotherapy; or see-and-treat algorithm IV, using the loop electrosurgical excision procedure. Costs associated with patient management in each algorithm were calculated including those for the procedure, patient time, physician time, and disposable expenses, as well as costs to manage complications, treatment failures, and follow-up for 1 year. Results: Algorithm I was the most expensive, costing $899,405 for 1000 patients with high-grade SIL. Substituting the loop electrosurgical excision procedure for cold-knife conization (algorithm II) decreased the cost by 32%, whereas substituting it for cryotherapy also (algorithm III) reduced the cost by only 25%. The most cost-effective management was the see-and-treat single visit of algorithm IV. This strategy cost $531,281, offering a 41% cost reduction compared with algorithm I. Conclusion: A see-and-treat approach to the management of women with high-grade SIL, although incorporating more procedures, offers significant cost savings over conventional management algorithms.
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