• Vasa praevia;
  • cost effectiveness analysis;
  • screening;
  • prenatal diagnosis;
  • ultrasonography;
  • ultrasound

Please cite this paper as: Cipriano L, Barth W, Zaric G. The cost-effectiveness of targeted or universal screening for vasa praevia at 18–20 weeks of gestation in Ontario. BJOG 2010;117:1108–1118.

Objectives  To estimate the cost-effectiveness of targeted and universal screening for vasa praevia at 18–20 weeks of gestation in singleton and twin pregnancies.

Design  Cost–utility analysis based on a decision-analytic model comparing relevant strategies and life-long outcomes for mother and infant(s).

Setting  Ontario, Canada.

Population  A cohort of pregnant women in 1 year.

Methods  We constructed a decision-analytic model to estimate the lifetime incremental costs and benefits of screening for vasa praevia. Inputs were estimated from the literature. Costs were collected from the London Health Sciences Centre, the Ontario Health Insurance Program, and other sources. We used one-way, scenario and probabilistic sensitivity analysis to determine the robustness of the results.

Main outcome measures  Incremental costs, life expectancy, quality-adjusted life-years (QALY) and incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER).

Results  Universal transvaginal ultrasound screening of twin pregnancies has an ICER of $5488 per QALY-gained. Screening all singleton pregnancies with the risk factors low-lying placentas, in vitro fertilisation (IVF) conception, accessory placental lobes, or velamentous cord insertion has an ICER of $15,764 per QALY-gained even though identifying some of these risk factors requires routine use of colour Doppler during transabdominal examinations. Screening women with a marginal cord insertion costs an additional $27,603 per QALY-gained. Universal transvaginal screening for vasa praevia in singleton pregnancies costs $579,164 per QALY compared with targeted screening.

Conclusions  Compared with current practice, screening all twin pregnancies for vasa praevia with transvaginal ultrasound is cost-effective. Among the alternatives considered, the use of colour Doppler at all transabdominal ultrasound examinations of singleton pregnancies and targeted use of transvaginal ultrasound for IVF pregnancies or when the placenta has been found to be associated with one or more risk factors is cost-effective. Universal screening of singleton pregnancies is not cost-effective compared with targeted screening.