Rectal suction biopsies to diagnose Hirschsprung’s disease in a low-resource environment – optimising cost-effectiveness
Background: The diagnosis of Hirschsprung’s disease (HD) by rectal suction biopsy (RSB) has cost implications that could be reduced by ascertaining the optimal number of specimens required. The aim was to audit our experience to optimise cost-effectiveness.
Methods: Medical records of all patients who underwent an RSB between January 2018 and December 2021 were reviewed. In 2020, we transitioned from using the Solo-RBT to the rbi2 system (requiring single-use cartridges). Descriptive statistics were reported and a comparative analysis of the diagnostic efficacy of the Solo-RBT versus the rbi2 system was performed. The cost of consumables was calculated according to the number of specimens submitted.
Results: Of 218 RSBs, 181 were first and 37 were repeat. The mean age at biopsy was 62 days (IQR 22–65). An average of two tissue specimens were obtained per biopsy. Of the 181 first biopsies, 151 were optimal and 30 suboptimal. HD was confirmed in 19 (10.5%) of the patients. Amongst biopsies where a single specimen was obtained, 16% were inconclusive, compared to 14% with two specimens and 5% with three specimens. The cartridges for the rbi2 system cost R530. If two cartridges are used at initial biopsy the total cost is double of a single tissue specimen sent for initial biopsy, and two specimens sent for repeat biopsies.
Conclusion: In a low-resource setting, selecting the appropriate RSB system and obtaining a single specimen is sufficient to diagnose HD. Patients with inconclusive results should undergo a repeat biopsy where two specimens are obtained.
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