Feature | September 25, 2012

Survey: Cardiologists Performing Fewer Nuclear Scans as Tighter Rules, Financial Factors Take Hold

Physicians are seeing more patients and performing fewer studies on those patients, report notes

MedAxiom ASNC Nuclear Imaging

September 25, 2012 — A new survey reveals that cardiologists around the United States are seeing more patients than ever before, yet performing fewer advanced nuclear tests on those patients on average. The survey cites a change in the approach to the delivery of cardiovascular care, as well as continued concerns about economic conditions, as reasons for the decline.

Despite the decline, the findings confirm cardiologists are providing Americans with technology-based healthcare that is capable of delivering better diagnostic capabilities — an issue of increasing importance given the increasing number of older citizens requiring cardiac care.

MedAxiom, a national source of quantifiable information about the state of cardiology practices, jointly conducted the survey with the American Society of Nuclear Cardiology (ASNC). More than 110 practices, representing more than 2,000 cardiologists, took part in the survey, which was released at ASNC's annual conference in early September.

The survey reveals that in 2011, on average, cardiologists recorded more than 2,100 patient visits, up more than 29 percent since 2004. At the same time, however, they performed an average of 356 imaged stress studies last year, such as stress echo tests, single-photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT) tests or positron emission tomography (PET) tests to detect potential coronary problems such as blocked arteries or reduced pumping efficiency. That number remained, on average, largely flat over the same eight-year period, up only 2 percent.

Expressed as a ratio, however, the survey revealed that these tests were performed on one of every eleven cardiology patients last year, as opposed to one of every seven in 2008. "Put simply," the survey authors note, "physicians are seeing more patients and performing fewer studies on those patients." The study cited several reasons, such as:

  • Increasing adoption of appropriate use criteria;
  • Higher deductibles and co-pays for those with insurance;
  • Increased awareness of radiation optimization;
  • The use of provider-based billing by integrated cardiology practices; and
  • An intermittent shortage of molybdenum-99, a key radioactive isotope in conducting the tests.


"In the face of increasing challenges, America's cardiologists have made a commitment of continuing to provide superior healthcare," said Jennifer Linville, CEO of MedAxiom. "At the same time, many recognize the advantages of nuclear cardiac imaging tests as an important tool to identify potential coronary disease among their patients. Balancing the two, cardiologists have committed to the selective and responsible administration of these tests in a way that contributes to the continued health of the people who depend on them."

"Nuclear cardiology imaging plays, and will continue to play, an important role diagnosing and treating heart disease." said John Mahmarian, M.D., president of ASNC. "Our doctors have been vigilant in prescribing the appropriate use of these tests as defined by our participation in the Choosing Wisely initiative. As healthcare evolves in the United States, we intend to continue clearly defining the patient-centered approach to cardiovascular imaging and optimizing the value received from it. Our goal is to continue to provide both quality and value to our patients."

For more information: www.medaxiom.com, www.asnc.org

Related Content

SIR-Spheres Y-90 resin

SIR-Spheres Y-90 resin microspheres are released into the hepatic artery.

News | Nuclear Imaging | February 14, 2020
February 14, 2020 —  ...
Nuclear imaging equipment growth in 2020
News | Nuclear Imaging | February 14, 2020
February 14, 2020 — The nuclear imaging equipment
A 50-y-old postmenopausal woman with fibroadenoma (arrows) in left breast

A 50-y-old postmenopausal woman with fibroadenoma (arrows) in left breast. (A) Unenhanced fat-saturated T1-weighted MRI shows extreme amount of FGT (ACR d). (B) Moderate BPE is seen on dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI at 90 s. (C) Mean ADC of breast parenchyma of contralateral breast on diffusion-weighted imaging with ADC mapping is 1.5 × 10?3 mm2/s. (D) On 18F-FDG PET/CT, lesion is not 18F-FDG-avid, and BPU of normal breast parenchyma is relatively high, with SUVmax of 3.2. Photo courtesy of K Pinker, et al., Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria

News | PET-MRI | January 27, 2020
January 27, 2020 — Researchers have identified several potentially useful...
Nuclear imaging of the spine shown on Philips Healthcare BrightView XCT

Image courtesy of Philips Healthcare

News | Nuclear Imaging | January 27, 2020
January 27, 2020 — According to the new market research report "...
This is a lung X-ray reviewed automatically by artificial intelligence (AI) to identify a collapsed lung (pneumothorax) in the color coded area. This AI app from Lunit is awaiting final FDA review and in planned to be integrated into several vendors' mobile digital radiography (DR) systems. Fujifilm showed this software integrated as a work-in-progress into its mobile X-ray system at RSNA 2019. GE Healthcare has its own version of this software for its mobile r=ray systems that gained FDA in 2019.   #RSNA #

This is a lung X-ray reviewed automatically by artificial intelligence (AI) to identify a collapsed lung (pneumothorax) in the color coded area. This AI app from Lunit is awaiting final FDA review and in planned to be integrated into several vendors' mobile digital radiography (DR) systems. Fujifilm showed this software integrated as a work-in-progress into its mobile X-ray system at RSNA 2019. GE Healthcare has its own version of this software for its mobile r=ray systems that gained FDA in 2019.

Feature | RSNA | January 20, 2020 | Dave Fornell, Editor
Here are images of some of the newest new medical imaging technologies displayed on the expo floor at the ...
Feinstein Institutes' Thomas Chaly, Ph.D., poses in front of a PET-CT imaging machine. He has been instrumental in pushing for FDA approval of a new PET imaging agent, Fluorodopa F-18 (FDOPA), to combat Parkinson’s

Feinstein Institutes' Thomas Chaly, Ph.D., in front of a PET-CT imaging machine. He has been instrumental in pushing for FDA approval of a new PET imaging agent, Fluorodopa F-18 (FDOPA), to combat Parkinson’s

News | Nuclear Imaging | December 26, 2019
December 26, 2019 — The Feinstein Institutes for Medical R...
Prof. Dr. Samer Ezziddin from Saarland University/Saarland University Hospital.

Prof. Dr. Samer Ezziddin from Saarland University/Saarland University Hospital. Photo courtesy of Thorsten Mohr/Saarland University

News | Prostate Cancer | November 28, 2019
November 28, 2019 — Reports of new cancer treatments
 Prostate cancer MRI
News | Clinical Trials | November 15, 2019
November 15, 2019 — Theragnostics, which is developing innovative radiopharm