AHS working to bring down unnecessary use of MRI and CT scans

A provincial initiative to reduce unwarranted MRI and CT scans has met with some success, but more work needs to be done to curb rising wait times for the expensive diagnostic tests, Alberta Health Services says.

Efforts that began three years ago have so far resulted in a 12 per cent drop in magnetic resonance imaging scans for the lumbar spine and lower back, Mauro Chies, vice-president of clinical support services, said Friday.

“We made a good gain in terms of reducing the number of orders … But I think it’s fair to say we were hoping for more,” Chies said.

Computed tomography tests for lumbar spine and lower back have also come down, although the effect is less significant because the vast majority of scans on this part of the body are done through an MRI.

Health officials decided to focus on lower back imaging following the development of new guidelines that suggested many such tests are unnecessary.

A study from Alberta researchers published in 2013 reviewed 2,000 requests for magnetic resonance imaging in Alberta and Ontario, finding more than 50 per cent of such scans for the lower back were inappropriate or had minimal value.

Among family doctors, just 34 per cent of the orders were found to be appropriate.

Some radiologists have disputed the research.

EDMONTON,ALBERTA. JAN. 19/2011- Mauro Chies, Vice-President, Diagnostic Imaging speaks at a news conference announcing that 9000 additional magnetic resonance imaging scans (MRIs) will be performed between now and March 31 to help reduce wait lists for this procedure across the province. in Edmonton, Alberta. January 19, 2011. (Bruce Edwards/Edmonton Journal)

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Mauro Chies

Regardless, lower back imaging comprises about 30 per cent of all MRI orders in the province, so it’s an obvious …read more

Source:: Edmonton Journal

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