In 2011, an estimated 85.3 million CT procedures were performed in the U.S., representing an annual growth rate of 4 percent compared with 2010. While the numbers are increasing, the 4 percent growth rate is a slowdown from the double digit growth of CT seen in the early 2000s, according to a survey of CT sites published by IMV’s Medical Information Division.
“While CT procedure growth has slowed compared to a decade ago, 58 percent of the surveyed sites indicated that they anticipate their procedures will grow in 2012 compared to 2011, and an additional 34 percent anticipate that their procedures will stay at the same level this year,” Lorna Young, senior director of market research for the Des Plaines, Ill.-based consulting and marketing research firm, said in a release.
Titled “2012 CT Market Outlook Report,” the IMV analysis is based on responses from 405 radiology administrators nationwide.
CT procedure volumes are remaining constant or increasing, and, at the same time, hospital CT departments face the challenge of reduced Medicare and third-party reimbursements, according to IMV. Hospital-based radiology departments are seeing an increased number of emergency patients, with 80 percent of hospital-based survey respondents indicating that a major priority for their departments is managing increases in the number of emergency patients. Outpatient and ER volumes now account for 82 percent of total CT volume, up from 66 percent a decade ago.
The survey also demonstrated that radiation dose continues to be a hot topic, with 75 percent of respondents saying reductions to radiation dose were priorities in their department. Dose reduction efforts aren’t seen as a threat to CT growth, however, as only 10 percent agreed that patient and public concerns over dose would slow CT utilization, according to IMV.
Reimbursement rates for CT scans performed at hospitals are more attractive than those conducted at freestanding imaging centers not owned by hospitals, and the resulting increase in procedures has led hospitals to shift their outpatients to hospital-owned imaging centers, according to the report.
"We are seeing increased buying activity by hospitals for imaging centers they will own/manage, and faster increases in CT procedure volume in these imaging centers, compared to freestanding imaging centers," Young said.
Other notable findings from the report include:
- There are an estimated 13,775 fixed CT scanners installed at 8,465 sites across the U.S.
- Of the respondents planning on a CT scanner purchase over the next three years, two-thirds are planning to purchase a unit with 64 or more slices.
- The average replacement cycle for a CT unit was estimated at 8.9 years.
- Since 2007, the proportion of CT procedures using contrast media declined from 67 percent to 53 percent.