Cost-Effectiveness of Universal Asymptomatic Preoperative SARS-CoV-2 Polymerase Chain Reaction Screening: A Cost-Utility Analysis

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Background: An early report has shown the clinical benefit of the asymptomatic preoperative severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) screening test, and some clinical guidelines recommended this test. However, the cost-effectiveness of asymptomatic screening was not evaluated. We aimed to investigate the cost-effectiveness of universal preoperative screening of asymptomatic patients for SARS-CoV-2 using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing. Methods: We evaluated the cost-effectiveness of asymptomatic screening using a decision tree model from a payer perspective, assuming that the test-positive rate was 0.07% and the screening cost was 8500 Japanese yen (JPY) (approximately 7601 US dollars [USD]). The input parameter was derived from the available evidence reported in the literature. A willingness-to-pay threshold was set at 5 000 000 JPY/quality-adjusted life-year (QALY). Results: The incremental cost of 1 death averted was 74 469 236 JPY (approximately 566 048 USD) and 291 123 368 JPY/QALY (approximately 2 212 856 USD/QALY), which was above the 5 000 000 JPY/QALY willingness-to-pay threshold. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio fell below 5 000 000 JPY/QALY only when the test-positive rate exceeded 0.739%. However, when the probability of developing a postoperative pulmonary complication among SARS-CoV-2-positive patients was below 0.22, asymptomatic screening was never cost-effective, regardless of how high the test-positive rate became. Conclusions: Asymptomatic preoperative universal SARS-CoV-2 PCR screening is not cost-effective in the base case analysis. The cost-effectiveness mainly depends on the test-positive rate, the frequency of postoperative pulmonary complications, and the screening costs; however, no matter how high the test-positive rate, the cost-effectiveness is poor if the probability of developing postoperative pulmonary complications among patients positive for SARS-CoV-2 is sufficiently reduced.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-64
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Infectious Diseases
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2024 Jan 15


  • COVID-19
  • cost-effectiveness
  • polymerase chain reaction
  • preoperative
  • universal asymptomatic screening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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