Istituto di Fisiologia Clinica     
Picano E. Economic and biological costs of cardiac imaging. In: Cardiovascular Ultrasound, vol. 03 pp. 13 - 19. BioMed Central, 2005.
Medical imaging market consists of several billion tests per year worldwide. Out of these, at least one third are cardiovascular procedures. Keeping in mind that each test represents a cost, often a risk, and a diagnostic hypothesis, we can agree that every unnecessary and unjustifiable test is one test too many. Small individual costs, risks, and wastes multiplied by billions of examinations per year represent an important population, society and environmental burden. Unfortunately, the appropriateness of cardiac imaging is extra-ordinarily low and there is little awareness in patients and physicians of differential costs, radiological doses, and long term risks of different imaging modalities. For a resting cardiac imaging test, being the average cost (not charges) of an echocardiogram equal to 1 (as a cost comparator), the cost of a CT is 3.1x, of a SPECT 3.27x, of a Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance imaging 5.51x, of a PET 14.03x, and of a right and left heart catheterization 19.96x. For stress cardiac imaging, compared with the treadmill exercise test equal to 1 (as a cost comparator), the cost of stress echocardiography is 2.1x and of a stress SPECT scintigraphy is 5.7x. Biohazards and downstream long-term costs linked to radiation-induced oncogenesis should also be considered. The radiation exposure is absent in echo and magnetic resonance, and corresponds to 500 chest x rays for a sestamibi cardiac stress scan and to 1150 chest x rays for a thallium scan. The corresponding extra-risk in a lifetime of fatal cancer is 1 in 2000 exposed patients for a sestamibi stress and 1 in 1000 for a thallium scan. Increased awareness of economic, biologic, and environmental costs of cardiac imaging will hopefully lead to greater appropriateness, wisdom and prudence from both the prescriber and the practitioner. In this way, the sustainability of cardiac imaging will eventually improve.
URL: http://www.cardiovascularultrasound.com/content/pdf/1476-7120-3-13.pdf
Subject biological

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