Hospitals performed the same number of diagnostic nuclear-medicine procedures last year as they did in 1992, a recent study said.
That probably is a sign that the use of other diagnostic imaging tests, such as magnetic resonance imaging or computed tomography, also has leveled off or even declined, said John Vanden Brink, managing partner of Des Plaines, Ill.-based Technology Marketing Group, which produced the study.
Diagnostic tests are drawing more scrutiny from managed-care plans and other payers, which argue that 10% to 50% of procedures aren't necessary (Nov. 29, 1993, p. 34). In response, many physicians are ordering tests more carefully.
TMG tracked nuclear-imaging procedures at 3,624 hospitals and 814 independent imaging centers, or about 90% of U.S. nuclear-imaging facilities. It now is gathering data on MRI and CT procedures.
Hospitals said they performed 9.7 million nuclear-imaging procedures in 1993, the same number as in 1992. Independent sites, however, reported 1.2 million nuclear procedures in 1993, a 20% increase from 1992.
New contrast agents triggered increased use of nuclear imaging for cardiac disease over the past few years (Sept. 27, 1993, p. 66). That, in turn, led to a rise in the number of independent nuclear-medicine sites, Mr. Vanden Brink said. Hospitals, however, closed 70 on-site nuclear-medicine centers in 1993, he said.