Combination CT Scans Get Mixed Reviews

Gienna Shaw, January 11, 2011

Imaging has been all over the news lately—but the articles aren’t all about the technological wonders of modern radiology. Imaging is a service line that generates profits without which most healthcare organizations would suffer. The technology has improved dramatically in the past 15 or so years. But lately public attention has been focused on so-called combination scans—and some are wondering whether healthcare organizations are rightly reaping those profits.

A study in the this month’s issue of Radiology found that from 1995 to 2007 the number of emergency department  visits that included a computed tomography (CT) exam increased from 2.7 million to 16.2 million, an increase of 16% per year. In and of itself the study, led by David B. Larson, MD, from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Ohio, isn’t exactly scandalous. One simple explanation is that there are more uses for the technologies today, researchers noted.

And research by heart imaging specialists at Johns Hopkins found that a combination of CT scans to detect coronary artery disease and its severity,

by measuring how much blood is flowing through the heart and the amount of plaque in surrounding arteries, are just as good as tests that are less safe, more complex, and more time-consuming.

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