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Study: Use of imaging technology skyrockets

HealthDay/Washington Post, November 11, 2008
The use of MRI and CT scanners in the United States has more than doubled since 1995, but that hasn't necessarily resulted in better healthcare or fewer deaths, according to a study by researchers at Stanford and Harvard universities. The researchers analyzed Medicare claims data and found that the number of MRI procedures per 1,000 beneficiaries was 0.3 in 1985, 50 in 1995, and 173 in 2003. The number of CT procedures increased from 235 per 1,000 beneficiaries in 1995 to 547 per 1,000 in 2005. Each new CT scanner led to an additional 2,224 CT procedures per year, adding $685,000 to the nation's annual Medicare bill. Each new MRI unit led to an additional 733 MRI procedures per year, adding $550,000 to yearly Medicare costs.