RSNA: Computed Tomography Use in Emergency Room Up

CT use has increased in emergency department at a higher rate than in other clinical settings

MONDAY, Nov. 29 (HealthDay News) -- The use of computed tomography (CT) in the emergency department has increased at a higher rate than CT use in other clinical settings, according to a study published online Nov. 29 in Radiology to coincide with presentation at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, held from Nov. 28 to Dec. 3 in Chicago.

David B. Larson, M.D., of the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, and colleagues evaluated the numbers and percentages of emergency department visits associated with CT using data from the 1995 to 2007 National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, with data subcategorized according to multiple patient and hospital characteristics.

The investigators found that the number of emergency department visits that included a CT examination increased from 2.7 to 16.2 million between 1995 and 2007. In addition, the percentage of visits associated with CT increased from 2.8 to 13.9 percent. The use of CT in the emergency department increased more quickly than CT use in other settings. The investigators also found that CT use was higher in older patients, white patients, patients admitted to the hospital, and patients at facilities in metropolitan regions. By 2007, the top chief complaints in patients undergoing CT were chest pain, headache, and abdominal pain.

"In conclusion, we found that the use of CT in the emergency department in the United States has increased at a consistent exponential rate and at a rate higher than that reported in other settings," the authors write. "The increased CT use is related to both a higher frequency of scanning for the same indications reported in the past and an increasing number of reasons to use the technology."

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