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US headache sufferers get $1 billion worth of brain scans each year, U-M study finds
Date:3/17/2014

he appropriateness of the scans ordered for patients.

He also notes that the $1 billion a year estimate doesn't include other costs, including follow-up tests and any treatment that might be ordered if a scan finds something. And, CT imaging comes with a radiation exposure that itself carries risks, while MRI scans are more costly and have a higher chance of finding things that turn out to be of no concern.

"But doctors typically don't consider costs, and patients usually aren't paying directly for these scans," he notes. "Insurers may require prior authorizations but still cover the scans if they are ordered." In fact, he and his colleagues last year published a study showing that the cost of medical imaging ordered by neurologists cost more than the cost of all visits to neurologists added together.

The bottom line for headache patients who think they might want to have a brain scan, says Callaghan: if the doctor treating your headache doesn't think you need a scan, don't push them.


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Contact: Kara Gavin
kegavin@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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