MRI Use Increasing for Evaluating Stroke Patients

(HealthDay News) – The use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in the evaluation of hospitalized stroke patients has dramatically increased over the past decade.

James F. Burke, MD, of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional study with time trends utilizing data from state databases on the use of neuroimaging in 624,842 patients who were hospitalized and had a primary discharge diagnosis of stroke. Data were included for 11 states from 1999–2008.

The researchers found that, during the study period, the utilization of MRI increased for all states, with absolute MRI utilization increasing by 38%. While computed tomography utilization changed very little, the relative MRI utilization increased 235%, from 28% in 1999 to 66% in 2008. The use of MRI in stroke patients varied widely by geographic region, ranging from 55% in Oregon to 79% in Arizona. The fastest growing component of total hospital costs was diagnostic imaging, increasing 213% during the study period.

“The use of MRI in ischemic stroke has substantially increased over the past decade, with wide geographic variation and increasing contribution to the cost of stroke care,” the authors write. “These findings emphasize the importance of future research to define which stroke patients are likely to benefit from MRI, how MRI information should be applied to individuals, and the relationship between MRI and clinically meaningful outcomes.”

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