Author Affiliations: Division of Clinical Care Research, New England Medical Center, Boston, Mass.
Few diagnostic technologies deployed during the past 3 decades have
had as profound an impact on clinical medicine as computed tomography (CT)
and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). While these technologies have improved
case management, they have also become a billion-dollar industry that has
had a major impact on rising health care costs. It is concerning, therefore,
that these expensive technologies have been widely adopted before being adequately
evaluated.1,2 With the emergence
of positron emission tomography (PET) from research laboratories into routine
clinical use, physicians are faced once again with a new technology that promises
to deliver more but that also costs more. At the current Medicare reimbursement
rate of approximately $2000 per PET scan,3
unfettered use of this technology would easily add billions of dollars in
spending to an already stressed health care financing system.
Balk E, Lau J. PET Scans and Technology AssessmentDéjà Vu?. JAMA. 2001;285(7):936-937. doi:10.1001/jama.285.7.936