Study Suggests Imaging Utilization Affected by Patient Age and Facility Imaging Capacity

Shawn Farley, American College of Radiology

Imaging utilization on stroke patients is affected by age and imaging capacity—the number of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) machines at any given facility, according to a study in the June issue of the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

Advanced medical imaging is a component of healthcare expenditure growth. Although there are many potential reasons for imaging growth, including that scans have been directly linked to greater life expectancy, declines in cancer mortality rates, and are generally less expensive than the invasive procedures that they replace, one of the major drivers of utilization may be enhanced imaging capacity available in most major metropolitan areas.

"To better understand some of the determinants of imaging ordering behavior, we analyzed the effect of differential capacity on the imaging workup of patients with acute non-hemorrhagic stroke," said Max P. Rosen, MD, MPH, lead author of the study. A "natural experiment" between the United States and Canada was performed.

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