November 05, 2014
1 min read

Unnecessary hip MRIs raised costs for patients with hip osteoarthritis

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Due to the cost unnecessary hip MRIs places on the patient population, referring physicians should not simultaneously order a radiograph and an MRI for hip pain, according to researchers.

To identify the number of new patients with hip osteoarthritis who had an unnecessary MRI, the additional costs of these MRIs and the extrapolated cost to the United States health care system during the next 10 years, researchers prospectively evaluated every patient referred to their institution during a 36-month period.

Study results showed 15.4% of patients presented with MRIs that had been prescribed at a similar time as plain hip radiographs. The researchers determined 100% of the MRIs were unnecessary to diagnose hip osteoarthritis or develop potential treatment plans.

Based on the estimated national cost of a hip MRI ranging from $782 to $1,600, the researchers determined that the 59 unnecessary MRIs ordered by referring physicians in 383 patients cost approximately $46,138 to $94,400, or approximately $120.50 to $246.50 extra per patient with hip osteoarthritis.

An estimated total of $330 million to $440.4 million may be spent on unnecessary hip MRIs in this patient population for 180,000 to 240,000 estimated new cases of hip arthritis per year in America, according to the researchers.

Disclosure: See the study for a full list of all authors’ relevant financial disclosures.