Brain Scans Overused on U.S. Stroke Patients, Study
TUESDAY, March 6 (HealthDay News) -- Most stroke patients
undergo both CT and MRI brain scans, an unnecessary duplication
that contributes to the rising costs of stroke care in the United
States, a new study indicates.
University of Michigan researchers analyzed data from more than
600,000 patients diagnosed with stroke between 1999 and 2008 in 11
states, and found that 95 percent of the patients who had MRI scans
also had CT brain scans.
"Compared to CT, MRI is a more accurate test for stroke. But our results showed that MRI is not replacing CT as the primary stroke neuroimaging study -- instead, patients are getting both," study author Dr. James Burke, a clinical lecturer in the medical school's neurology department, said in a university news release.
"Minimizing the use of multiple studies could be a viable strategy to reduce costs," he added.
The researchers noted that the costs of inpatient stroke care
rose 42 percent between 1997 and 2007, an increase of $3,800 per
stroke case. Brain scans were the largest contributor to the
increased costs, they found.
"The data shows that neuroimaging practices in stroke are neither standardized [nor] efficient," Burke said. "This represents an area where we have an opportunity to substantially reduce the cost of care without adversely affecting the quality of care."
The study was published in the February issue of the
Annals of Neurology.
"The issue of duplicative imaging in stroke is just one example of wasteful care," journal editors Dr. S. Clairborne Johnson and Dr. Stephen Hauser wrote in an accompanying editorial.
The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
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