• For patients visiting a primary care office practice for acute low back pain, we compared the benefits, risks, and costs of obtaining a roentgenogram of the lumbar spine routinely at the initial visit with performing a roentgenogram only if the patient's pain does not improve during an eight-week follow-up period. The cost-effectiveness analysis indicated that, to avert one day of physical suffering in a population of patients, the population would have to be subjected to the additional risk of 3,188 mrad of radiation and an additional cost of $2,072. While, in the individual case, circumstances might lead to a different conclusion, in general, the risks and costs of obtaining lumbar roentgenograms at the initial visit in patients with acute low back pain do not seem to justify the relatively small associated benefit.
(Arch Intern Med 1982;142:1108-1112)
Liang M, Komaroff AL. Roentgenograms in Primary Care Patients With Acute Low Back Pain: A Cost-effectiveness Analysis. Arch Intern Med. 1982;142(6):1108–1112. doi:10.1001/archinte.1982.00340190064013
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