Medical decision making vol:21 issue:6 pages:444-50
OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to assess and compare the impact of magnetic resonance imaging (MIR) and computed tomography (CT) on diagnostic and therapeutic decision making, taking into account the real cost of both techniques at the authors' institution. METHOD: Brain CT and routine and rapid MRI were compared, and case files were prepared with either the CT or the MRI findings. These files were separately presented to a neurologist, and different questions were asked about further management. The real cost of CT and MRI was calculated. A questionnaire was sent to the patients 3 months after imaging. RESULTS: More lesions were detected on MRI than on CT Routine and rapid AIRI were comparable. The analysis of the CT case files revealed an additional request for MRl in 33% of the patients. An analysis of the MRI case files revealed that 20% more technical examinations were requested after MRI than after CT In the majority of the patients (90%), neuroimaging had no impact on therapy except by means of reassurance of the physician. The scan was considered useful for therapeutic planning by excluding the presence of a space-occupying lesion. The real cost of the MP! strategy was 9% higher than that of the CT strategy. CONCLUSION: In this patient population, neuroimaging was normal in the majority of the patients. Undergoing an imaging examination was of benefit to the patients and improved their sense of well-being mainly by the reassurance they experienced, as reported by 91% of the patients. At the authors' institution, the real cost of MMI in this patient population was only slightly higher than the real cost of CT The statistical analysis favors the use of MRI as a 1st imaging examination.