CT in the cross-hairs again
Advocates for the use of CT as a non-invasive replacement for traditional exam methods may be feeling as though they’re walking around with a target painted on their backs. Earlier this year, the utilization of CT angiography came under fire from a variety of quarters. Only a last minute effort from a variety of clinical societies staved off Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service (CMS) efforts to oppose reimbursement.

This week, CT colonoscopy (CTC) was given the short-shrift by CMS. In spite of Sisyphean efforts by CTC practitioners to demonstrate both the clinical and cost effectiveness of the procedure, the reimbursement rock has rolled down to the bottom of the hill once again.

Ironically, the decision to deny reimbursement was the same week that President Obama’s administration put on a full-court press to guide healthcare reform legislation through Congress by the end of summer. Given that approximately 49 million Medicare beneficiaries are eligible for colon cancer screening, and that the cost of CTC is about $125 less than optical colonoscopy, the decision not to reimburse CTC means a potential savings of around $550 million will not be realized.

In more positive news, an Austrian research team has found CT angiography (CTA) to be as accurate as traditional digital subtraction angiography—an invasive and expensive procedure--in delivering accurate recommendations for the management of critical limb ischemia. Their work may lead to further utilization of CTA in the increasingly more common presentation of peripheral arterial occlusive disease.

Also from Europe this month, clinicians at a group of London hospitals have documented that normal lung CT findings in the elderly are different than “normal” for younger patients. The CT patterns in their research are of importance to an aging population, as there is the potential for confusion with the CT appearance of clinically relevant interstitial lung disease, which could result in unnecessary follow-up and potentially harmful treatment

If you or your group is interested in finding out more about the capabilities of CT technology and how it can extend and expand the reach of diagnostic imaging service lines, head over to our Healthcare TechGuide and check out the variety of systems offered there.

Lastly, if you have a comment or report to share about the utilization of CT technology in your practice, please contact me at the address below. I look forward to hearing from you.

Jonathan Batchelor, Web Editor