Dear AuntMinnie Member,
With a decision on Medicare reimbursement for CT lung cancer screening potentially only weeks away, opponents of the exam have taken to the pages of JAMA Internal Medicine to make their case one last time.
Perhaps it's no surprise that the journal's editor is Dr. Rita Redberg, the cardiologist from the University of California, San Francisco, who has become familiar to the radiology community for articles such as her recent New York Times editorial on CT radiation dose, "We are giving ourselves cancer."
In addition to guiding content at JAMA Internal Medicine, Redberg also chaired the April meeting of the Medicare Evidence Development and Coverage Advisory Committee (MEDCAC), which advised against Medicare payment for CT lung cancer screening -- drawing howls of protest from screening proponents.
The proscreening community sees this week's articles as an attempt to get in one last shot against CT before the Medicare decision, by restating many of the same questions raised in the MEDCAC meeting -- questions that have been answered more than adequately, the screening proponents believe.
To its credit, JAMA Internal Medicine saw fit to include an editorial making the case in favor of CT. Read more about the dueling articles by clicking here.
While you're in the CT Community, be sure to read this article about a project in Houston that mounted a portable CT scanner in an ambulance, with the goal of making faster stroke diagnoses -- and starting therapy earlier. Get all the details in the community at ct.auntminnie.com.
FDA approves ultrasound contrast agent
In other new developments, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week granted approval to a new contrast agent for ultrasound exams.
The agent, called Lumason, is designed to help visualize the left ventricle in echocardiography scans. The approval is particularly significant because Lumason becomes only the third ultrasound contrast agent on the U.S. market, and it's the first such agent to be approved in more than a decade.
The FDA's approval process for ultrasound contrast got sidetracked in 2007 after reports that some patients had died after contrast administration. The reports prompted the FDA to require the two agents on the market at the time to carry black-box warnings, but the language for those warnings has since been relaxed following the publication of new data confirming the safety of the products.
Is Lumason's approval a sign that the FDA is prepared to get moving again on ultrasound contrast, in particular for radiology applications? Only time will tell, but until then read about this new tool for echo imaging by clicking here, or visit our Ultrasound Community at ultrasound.auntminnie.com.