By Eric Barnes, AuntMinnie.com staff writer
November 11, 2010

Monday, November 29 | 9:05 a.m.-9:15 a.m. | VE21-02 | Room N227
Imaging utilization in emergency departments has grown every year from 2000 to 2008 -- but CT is far and away the biggest driver of imaging utilization, according to Vijay Rao, MD, and colleagues from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. And it's mostly radiologists doing it.

Using Part B Medicare records to monitor changes in the U.S. over eight years, the researchers looked at several modalities, such as x-ray, CT, and ultrasound including echocardiography. Medicare's physician specialty codes were used to determine provider specialty.

Between 2002 and 2008, imaging utilization rates increased more than 60% -- from 281 to 450 per 1,000 patients. Everything was up, including x-ray at 29% growth, ultrasound at 95% growth, and CT at a whopping 227% higher in 2008 versus 2002. Radiologists were responsible for 93% of the procedures in 2002, rising to 98% in 2008.

Dramatic increases in imaging utilization -- particularly CT -- should raise concern about utilization rates and the associated risk to patients, according to Rao. The growth in utilization may be slowing down a bit, however.





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