Study Finds Imaging Exams of Pregnant Women on the Rise

More computed tomography scans driving the increase

WEDNESDAY, March 18 (HealthDay News) -- Imaging examinations of pregnant women at one Rhode Island medical center increased dramatically over a recent 10-year period, in particular the use of computed tomographic (CT) examinations, according to a report released online March 17 in advance of publication in the May issue of Radiology.

Elizabeth Lazarus, M.D., of the Department of Diagnostic Imaging, Warren Alpert School of Medicine at Brown University in Providence, R.I., and colleagues examined their hospital's data on the number of pregnant women who had imaging examinations from 1997 to 2006. For comparison, the total pregnant patient population was represented by the total deliveries for each year.

The researchers report that 237 patients underwent 331 imaging exams in 1997, compared with 449 patients and 732 examinations in 2006, which represents an 89 percent increase in patients and a 121 percent increase in examinations. In the same time period, deliveries showed a 7 percent increase. Utilization trends over the period were: conventional radiographic up 7 percent per year; nuclear medicine up 12 percent per year, and CT imaging up 25 percent per year, an increase driven largely by increased CT pulmonary angiography, the investigators found.

"Knowledge of this increase may raise awareness of the potential of adverse effects of increased imaging in the pregnant patient population and help monitor the inappropriate use of radiologic imaging in the future," the authors conclude.

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