The performance of unnecessary multiple-series CT scans to make sure that nothing is overlooked is becoming more common and resulting in patients receiving unnecessary radiation exposure, according to a University of Wisconsin study presented at the 2009 Radiological Society of North America conference in Chicago.
Unnecessary scans seen on increase: study
For the study, researchers reviewed abdomen and pelvis CT exams of 500 patients performed at a variety of unaffiliated sites. The review found a total of 978 CT series were conducted on the group, with 52% of patients receiving multiple scans of the same area. More than 35% of the multiple scans were determined to be unindicated—or not medically necessary—based on existing CT protocol.
Delayed phase imaging—timing multiple images of the same region to the location of injected contrast dye—was responsible for nearly 78% of unnecessary scans, researchers found. Patients who are screened for cancer are also more likely to undergo multiple-series scans, said Kristie Guite, a University of Wisconsin radiology resident and presenter of the study.
Researchers noted a possible connection between additional scans and increased reimbursement as one motivating factor for the growth in multiple series scans.
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