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.