U.S. Experts Aim for Better Heart Imaging

They've devised an "action plan" to help doctors with CT, MRI diagnoses

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TUESDAY, Nov. 21, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- A national panel of experts have developed an "action plan" to boost the quality of CT scans, MRI and other cardiovascular imaging in the United States.

Their recommendations appear in the current issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Imaging technologies used to capture images of the heart and its arteries include ultrasound, CT scans, MRI and angiography.

The panel included representatives from professional societies of imaging specialists, companies that develop imaging technology, insurance companies and government regulatory agencies. The experts gathered earlier this year at a meeting that was paid for by a number of health-care and medical-imaging companies.

The session was called the American College of Cardiology-Duke University Medical Center Think Tank on Quality in Cardiovascular Imaging. Some of the recommendations coming out of the meeting :

  • Patients must be matched with the most appropriate imaging technique. More studies need to be done to determine which imaging techniques are best suited for specific patient issues, the panel said.
  • Standard protocols and procedures need to be developed and followed to ensure that images are of high quality.
  • Measures need to be put in place to ensure that doctors read and interpret images properly, because correct interpretation of images is essential to a correct patient diagnosis. Along with certification, independent groups should be established to conduct regular reviews of physicians' interpretations of images.
  • Once an accurate image has been made and properly interpreted, the results must be effectively communicated to the patient's doctor(s). This can be achieved by using standardized language and forms that are easily understood by all doctors.

The experts said their recommendations are designed to improve patient outcomes and quality of life and reduce their medical expenses.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about heart imaging.

SOURCE: Duke University Medical Center, news release, Nov. 13, 2006

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