A review of 459 elective outpatient CT and MRI examinations conducted at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle showed that 74 percent were considered appropriate and 26 percent were considered inappropriate. Fifty-eight percent of the appropriate studies were positive and affected subsequent management, while only 24 percent of inappropriate studies were positive, affecting management.
Inappropriate exams included brain CT for chronic headache, lumbar spine MRI for acute back pain, and knee or shoulder MRI in patients with osteoarthritis.Study authors suggested a need for tools to help primary care physicians improve the quality of their imaging decision requests.
Two things that struck me. First it is not unusual in this litigious society that doctors order more tests to cover their you know whats. But tell the 24 percent of people who had inappropriate studies whose results were positive that indeed those studies were inappropriate. They would probably disagree.
I am not a physician but I am a patient occasionally and my rule is to always question. Question your physicians not only the need for tests but what they are intended to accomplish. Be an educated consumer. And work with your doctor to determine the best course for your health care plan.