EVANSTON, Ill., June 13 -- Imaging procedures administered in outpatient hospital settings increased 44 percent between 1999 and 2001, according to a study released today by Solucient, which monitors trends in the health care business.
Only recently adopted for the clinical setting, use of position emission tomography (PET) scans alone grew nearly 26 percent in this three-year period. The vast majority of that growth occurred in just one year, and may be due in part to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' decision in late 2000 to provide payment when PET imaging is used to diagnose specific types of cancer and heart disease, Solucient said.
Unlike the more widely established clinical imaging technologies, such as computed tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, PET scans provide images of metabolic and physiologic processes. This gives physicians the ability to detect disease sooner and more precisely differentiate scar tissue and tumor mass to evaluate whether cancer has spread or recurred.
From 1999 to 2001, the volume of MRIs performed in the outpatient setting increased nearly 52 percent. For CT scans, the increase was nearly 40 percent. MRI scans of the abdomen and pelvis experienced particularly strong growth. Colonoscopy, alternative care, and osteoporosis screening were among other key growth areas in outpatient settings during this three-year period.
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