ACR updates Appropriateness Criteria

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The American College of Radiology (ACR) has released new and updated evidence-based guidelines to help healthcare providers choose the most appropriate medical imaging exam or radiation therapy for a patient’s clinical condition via the latest version of its Appropriateness Criteria.

The ACR updated 39 appropriateness criteria topics and added five new criteria—breast cancer screening, radiologic management of gastric varices, imaging of mesenteric ischemia, definitive therapy for early-stage cervical cancer and radiation therapy for small-cell lung cancer. The criteria have been shown to improve quality, reduce unnecessary exams and lower costs, according to the ACR.

ACR Appropriateness Criteria seek to provide a tool for more effective clinical decision making to help ensure that imaging is neither over nor underutilized. The criteria are a national standard developed by expert panels of physicians from different medical specialties.

The criteria include topics from more than 350 expert panelists in breast, cardiac, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, neurologic, thoracic, urologic, pediatric, vascular and women’s imaging, as well as interventional radiology and radiation oncology. There are 180 topics with more than 850 variants available.

“ACR Appropriateness Criteria can help providers identify when they can replace an exam that uses ionizing radiation with one that does not, or even when no imaging exam may be needed at all. This can reduce patient and population exposure to radiation, and ensure appropriate imaging, without disrupting the doctor-patient relationship or delaying needed care,” E. Kent Yucel, MD, chair of the ACR committee on diagnostic imaging and interventional radiology appropriateness criteria, said in a release.