Objectives: Cost studies of positron emission tomography (PET) imaging are important for resource and operational planning; the most relevant cost analysis in this regard is the marginal cost. Operating within a regulatory environment can add considerably to the costs of providing PET services. Previously published research has not examined the marginal cost structure of PET nor have they described the implications of regulatory compliance to operational costs. The purpose of this study was to conduct a comprehensive cost estimation of PET imaging with 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (18F-FDG) to better identify the fixed and variable cost components, the marginal cost structure, and the added costs of satisfying regulatory requirements.
Methods: Financial data on capital and operating expenses were collected for the PET center at the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
Results: The total per-service cost for clinical operations ranged between $7,869 (400 annual scans) and $1,231 (3,200 annual scans). The marginal cost for the center remained steady as volume increased up to the throughput capacity.
Conclusions: Results indicate that economies from increased volumes did not arise. Regulatory requirements added significant costs to operating an 18F-FDG-PET center.