Orthopedic surgeons order most extremity imaging: 3 insights


Referral patterns of musculoskeletal extremity imaging examinations to radiologists vary by specialty. Orthopedic surgeons are leading the pack, according to a study in the American Journal of Roentgenology.

Here are three things to know.

1. The researchers used the 2014 Medicare Referring Provider Utilization for Procedures public-use file to obtain data on provider referrals for imaging.

2. In total, providers ordered 4,275,671 MSK extremity imaging examinations. Here are the specialties who most commonly ordered the imaging.

  • Orthopedic surgery: 37.6 percent
  • Internal medicine: 20.2 percent
  • Family practice: 14.8 percent
  • Emergency medicine: 7.9 percent
  • Rheumatology: 5.7 percent

3. Orthopedic surgeons also more frequently ordered other imaging, including:

  • MSK extremity CT: 33,465 examinations compared to 2,000 examinations for all other specialties combined
  • MRI: 325,485 examinations compared to 20,000 examinations for all other specialties combined
  • Radiography: 1,249,748 examinations compared to 850,000 examinations for all other specialties combined

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