PET scan rates climbing dramatically

While positiron emission tomography (PET) scans weren't used much in clinical medicine 10 years ago, today they've become far more common. The number of PET scans performed has climbed dramatically as Medicare and private insurers have agreed to pay for them. Over the past five years, the number of PET scans performed has climbed 400 percent, with more than a million scans being performed per year, according to consulting firm IMV Limited. This surge tracks with increases in MRI and CT scan use, though the average PET scan costs about $2,500--more than triple the average cost for an MRI. Some critics attribute these increases to self-referral, which according to some research, is a factor in one-third to one-fifth of cases, depending on what type of scan is being performed.

To get a lot more background on this issue:
- read this Baltimore Sun piece

Related Article:
MD self-referrals for imaging slipping through. Report

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