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

Novel PET Agent Could Help Guide Therapy for Brain Diseases

Rat brain 11C‐Me‐NB1 PET images (0‐60 min) superimposed on an MRI template. Credit: SD Krämer et al., ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

News | PET Imaging | April 10, 2018
Researchers have developed a new imaging agent that could help guide and assess treatments for people with various...
The Chalk River nuclear reactor license has been renewed, but will be decommissioned by 2028.

The Chalk River nuclear isotope reactor license has been renewed, but will be decommissioned by 2028. The reactor supplies about 50 percent of the world's supply of Tc99m.

Feature | Nuclear Imaging | April 02, 2018 | Dave Fornell
April 2, 2018 – The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) announced March 29 that it renewed Canadian Nuclear Lab
The yellow in the anterolateral entorhinal cortex of the young brain indicates significant activity, something that is absent in the older brain.

This figure shows two different brains that are aligned to a common template space for comparison. The yellow in the anterolateral entorhinal cortex of the young brain indicates significant activity, something that is absent in the older brain. CREDIT: Zachariah Reagh

News | Nuclear Imaging | March 08, 2018
As we get older, it's not uncommon to experience "senior moments," in which we forget where we parked our car or call...
Axumin PET Agent Added to NCCN Guidelines for Suspected Recurrent Prostate Cancer
News | PET Imaging | February 21, 2018
Blue Earth Diagnostics announced that Axumin (fluciclovine F 18) injection has been added to the National Comprehensive...
Radiography Education Enrollment Shows Marginal Rise in 2017
News | Radiology Business | February 15, 2018
Directors of radiography educational programs report the number of enrolled students increased slightly in 2017, while...
A Tc99m SPECT cardiac exam showing myocardial perfusion in the heart.

Technetium-99m is primarily used for the detection of cancer and to assess perfusion defects in the heart caused by heart attacks or other conditions.

Feature | Radiopharmaceuticals and Tracers | February 08, 2018 | Dave Fornell
February 8, 2018 — The U.S.
PSMA PET-CT Clearly Differentiates Prostate Cancer from Benign Tissue

68Ga-PSMA PET/CT images showing multifocal PCA in peripheral zone with GS of 5 1 5 5 10. (A and C) Axial PET images. (B and D) Fused PET/CT images. SUVmax of lesion in B was 84.3 and that of lesion in D was 5.7. IRS was 3, and 80% of cells were stained. Credit: Senior author V Prasad, Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany.

News | PET-CT | February 05, 2018
February 5, 2018 — Using nuclear medicine...
Brain-scan guided emergency stroke treatment can save more lives
News | Neuro Imaging | January 25, 2018
January 25, 2018 – Advances in brain imagin...
PET Tracer Measures Damage From Multiple Sclerosis in Mouse Models
News | PET Imaging | January 24, 2018
January 24, 2018 — The loss or damage of myelin, a cellular sheath that surrounds and insulates nerves, is the hallma
Novel PET Tracer Clearly Identifies and Tracks Bacterial Lung Infection

Representative PET/CT images of 18F-FDS and 18F-FDG in inflamed mice. Mice were inoculated with dead K. pneumoniae (10^8 CFU/mL). Imaging was performed for days 1, 2, 3 and 4 using 18F-FDG and 18F-FDS. CT images showed clear inflammation on day 2 and day 3 with corresponding high 18F-FDG uptake on PET. No significant uptake of 18F-FDS was detected for any of those 4 days. Credit: J Li et al., University of Louisville School of Medicine, Louisville, Ky.

News | PET-CT | January 22, 2018
January 22, 2018 — Researchers at the University of Louisville, Kentucky, have demonstrated that a new...
Overlay Init