Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, inflammatory, multisystem, autoimmune disorder. It is a disabling and painful condition which can lead to substantial loss of mobility due to pain and joint destruction.
October 14, 2009
For Back Pain, MRI Often First Step Toward Useless Surgery
Should we worry that a new Stanford study shows that those areas of the country that have the highest number of MRIs also have the highest incidence of surgery for lower-back pain, despite the lack of evidence showing that the surgeries are beneficial. The Los Angeles Times seems to think so. The paper reports of the research, which used Medicare claim data from 1998 to 2005 for patients with non-specific low-back pain and compared it with data on the availability of MRI scanners. The researchers found that the number of scans for low-back pain and the number of resulting surgeries in each of the 318 Metropolitan Statistical Areas were directly proportional to the availability of scanners. About two-thirds of the scans, moreover, occurred in the first month after the onset of pain, despite clinical guidelines that recommend at least a one-month delay because of the large number of patients who spontaneously recover. Wait there's more: the paper reports that a single low-back scan can cost $1,500.