Cost-effectiveness of novel diagnostic tools for the diagnosis of tuberculosis

D. W. Dowdy, M. A. O'Brien, D. Bishai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


SETTING: The potential cost-effectiveness of improved diagnostic tests for tuberculosis (TB) in resource-limited settings is unknown. OBJECTIVE: To estimate the incremental cost-effectiveness of a hypothetical new point-of-care TB diagnostic test in South Africa, Brazil and Kenya. DESIGN: Decision-analysis model, adding four diagnostic interventions (sputum smear microscopy, new test, smear plus new test and smear plus TB culture) to a baseline of existing infrastructure without smear. RESULTS: Adding sputum smear was estimated to be more cost-effective (incremental cost per disability-adjusted life year [DALY] of $86 [South Africa], $131 [Brazil], $38 (Kenya]) than a new TB diagnostic with 70% sensitivity, 95% specificity and price of $20 per test ($198 [South Africa], $275 [Brazil], $84 [Kenya]). However, compared to sputum smear, smear plus new test averted 46-49% more DALYs per 1000 TB suspects (321 vs. 215 [South Africa], 243 vs. 166 [Brazil], 790 vs. 531 [Kenya]), at an incremental cost of $170 (Kenya) to $625 (Brazil) per DALY averted. Cost-effectiveness was most sensitive to the specificity and price of the new test, the baseline TB case detection rate and the discount rate. CONCLUSION: Novel diagnostic tests for TB are potentially highly cost-effective. Cost-effectiveness is maximized by high-specificity, low-cost tests deployed to regions with poor infrastructure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1021-1029
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2008


  • Costs and cost analysis
  • Developing countries
  • Diagnostic techniques and procedures
  • Point-of-care systems
  • Tuberculosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Infectious Diseases


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