Majority of MRIs done for back pain unneeded or of questionable value: study | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Majority of MRIs done for back pain unneeded or of questionable value: study

A patient enters an MRI scanner in London, Tuesday, June 19, 2012. A new study suggests that fewer than half of MRIs ordered to look for the cause of lower back pain are an appropriate use of the imaging machines. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Justin Setterfield
March 25, 2013 - 1:18 PM

TORONTO - A new study suggests that fewer than half of MRIs ordered to look for the cause of lower back pain are an appropriate use of the imaging machines.

The Canadian work found that about 44 per cent of MRIs ordered for the lumbar spine were appropriate and the rest were either inappropriate or of questionable value.

Lead author Dr. Derek Emery says MRIs are a limited resource and if the system could reduce the number of unnecessary MRIs, it would benefit people with true need who are waiting in line.

The research is by clinicians from the University of Alberta, the University of Calgary, the University of Toronto, and the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and is published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

The scientists also studied MRI scans ordered for headaches and found that in most cases, those qualified as appropriate.

Emery says that may be because most of the people who had MRIs for recurrent headaches were essentially pre-screened, having already undergone a CT scan.

The research was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2013
The Canadian Press

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