"Overall, the PET market has slowed down somewhat over the last several years, but it is still growing," lead researcher Dr. David C. Levin told AuntMinnie.com. "It depends, however, on which group you're looking at."
Levin and colleagues reviewed the nationwide Medicare Physician/Supplier Procedure Summary Master Files for 2001 to 2011, studying all CPT codes for PET procedure volumes in each year.
Levin, professor emeritus of radiology at Thomas Jefferson University, said ownership of PET scanners by radiologists in private offices has "flattened completely in the last four or five years. So, there has been no growth among radiologists."
In addition, PET utilization among independent diagnostic testing facilities, which are usually owned by companies or groups, also has waned in recent years.
Radiologists still comprise the largest market share of PET scanner users, followed by independent diagnostic testing facilities.
"However, among certain other nonradiologist physician groups, there has been growth," Levin said. "For example, cardiologist and medical oncologist use has been growing. Then there are other internal medicine specialties that are growing as well."
PET utilization in hospitals also has gone up sharply. "I think that will continue," Levin speculated. "If I had to make a prediction, I would say that hospital use will continue to grow and private office use will probably flatten out."
The reasons for both the upward and downward market trends are economic, he said. Specialties such as cardiology and oncology have found PET to be financially beneficial, while radiologists struggle with declining reimbursements.