Report tallies growth in imaging scanners in Canada

2017 03 08 14 25 06 810 Canadian Flag 400

The number of MRI scanners in operation in Canada has grown 65% over the past 10 years, while the number of CT scanners has increased 35% over the same period, according to a new report published by the nonprofit Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH).

CADTH's "Canadian Medical Imaging Inventory" report chronicles the adoption of imaging technology in the country, where both federal and provincial governments have made major efforts to improve access to imaging and reduce patient wait times. Canada is often compared -- both favorably and unfavorably -- with the U.S., where imaging is much more prevalent but concerns regarding the overuse of imaging technology have surfaced.

The agency found that CT is the most common modality in Canada, and every province has access to a CT scanner, with 561 systems in operation. That's up from 419 scanners a decade ago. CT scanners are in operation an average of 76.5 hours per week and for 12.1 hours per day.

MRI is the second most common modality, with 366 machines installed across the country, compared with 222 machines 10 years ago. All provinces and one territory had at least one MRI scanner. MRI scanners were in operation an average of 78.7 hours per week and for 13.1 hours per day.

Medical imaging use in Canada in 2017
Modality Installed base in 2017 Growth over 10 years No. of exams annually
CT 561 35% 5.61 million
MRI 366 65% 1.86 million
SPECT and SPECT/CT 591 -3% 1.23 million
PET/CT 51 143% 91,000

With respect to SPECT, CADTH found that the modality is being replaced by SPECT/CT, with 330 SPECT units operating in the country in 2017, compared with 603 units in 2007. Meanwhile, the SPECT/CT market increased from around five systems in 2007 to 261 units in 2017. Canada has some of the oldest SPECT units, with 57.5% of the installed base being older than 10 years.

How does Canada compare with other countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)? For CT, Canada appears in the lower half in terms of scanners installed per population, but it's around the midpoint in terms of the number of exams being performed. Canada stands at a similar level with respect to MRI, according to the report.

More details are available on CADTH's website.

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