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The aims of this investigation were: (1) to compare residual stone-fragment (RSF) detection rates of ultra-low dose computed tomography (ULD-CT) and abdominal plain film (KUB) in urolithiasis patients undergoing shock-wave lithotripsy (SWL), and (2) to evaluate the downstream sequelae of utilizing these two disparate imaging pathways of differing diagnostic fidelity. A retrospective chart-review of patients undergoing SWL at two high-volume surgical centers was undertaken (2013-2016). RSF diagnostic rates of ULD-CT and KUB were assessed, and the impact of imaging modality used on subsequent emergency room (ER) visits, unplanned procedures, and cost-effectiveness was investigated. Adjusted analyses examined association between imaging modality used and outcomes, and Markov decision-tree analysis was performed to identify a cost advantageous scenario for ULD-CT over KUB. Of 417 patients studied, 57 (13.7%) underwent ULD-CT while the remaining 360 underwent KUB. The RSF rates were 36.8% and 22.8% in the ULD-CT and KUB groups, respectively (p = 0.019). A 5.6% and 18% of the patients deemed stone-free on ULD-CT and KUB, respectively, returned to the ER (p = 0.040). Similarly, 2.8% and 15.1% needed an unplanned surgery (p = 0.027). These findings were confirmed on multivariable analyses, Odds ratios CT-ULD versus KUB: 0.19 and 0.10, respectively, p < 0.05. With regards to cost-effectiveness, at low ULD-CT charges, the ULD-CT follow-up pathway was economically more favorable, but with increasing ULD-CT charges, the KUB follow-up pathway superseded. ULD-CT seems to provide a more 'true' estimate of stone-free status, and in consequence mitigates unwanted emergency and operating room visits by reducing untimely stent removals and false patient reassurances. Further, at low ULD-CT costs, it may also be economically more favorable.

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ePub ahead of print