Headache Imaging Costs $1 Billion Dollars Per Year

Dr. Brian C. Callaghan MD Department of Neurology University of Michigan Health System, Ann ArborMedicalResearch.com Interview Invitation with:
Dr. Brian C. Callaghan MD
Department of Neurology
University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor


MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Callaghan:  The main findings are that we order headache neuroimaging (MRIs and CTs) frequently, this accounts for approximately $1 billion dollars annually, and the number of tests ordered is only increasing with time.
MedicalResearch.com: Were any of the findings unexpected?

Dr. Callaghan: Yes, given that multiple guidelines recommend against neuroimaging in most patients with headaches, the magnitude of neuroimaging in this population is surprising.

MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Callaghan: Patients and physicians should re-evaluate when to order or ask for headache neuroimaging.  The number one reason physicians state they order these tests is for patient reassurance.  However, $1 billion is a lot to spend for reassurance.  Also, these tests can lead to false positive results and unnecessary procedures.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Callaghan: Future studies should investigate ways to improve guideline adherence, which has the potential to decrease healthcare costs substantially.

Citation:

Headaches and Neuroimaging: High Utilization and Costs Despite Guidelines

Brian C. Callaghan, MD, MS; Kevin A. Kerber, MD, MS; Robert J. Pace, MD; Lesli E. Skolarus, MD, MS; James F. Burke, MD, MS
JAMA Internal Medicine. 2014.

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