Columbia University Medical Center

CT Scan May Be Too Good at Finding Lung Problems, Study Finds

CT imaging is a very good way to find pulmonary embolisms — sudden blockages of an artery in the lung, which can be fatal if not treated quickly. But a new analysis finds that the procedure might be too good, revealing tiny embolisms that are harmless and leading to treatments that are unnecessary, expensive and potentially dangerous. …David J. Brenner, director of the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University Medical Center, who also was not involved in the study, said there are voluntary guidelines for use of the scans but many physicians do not follow them. He added that there is one easy way to improve this: build the guidelines into the hospital’s ordering system, so that when a CT scan is requested, the guidelines automatically appear on the computer screen. “To have the guidelines in front of them does decrease the number of scans,” Dr. Brenner said. “That’s probably the best way to get people to adhere.”