MRI of the knee and shoulder performed before radiography

Elizabeth George, Stavros Tsipas, Gregory Wozniak, David A. Rubin, David J. Seidenwurm, Kesav Raghavan, William Golden, Colleen Tallant, Mythreyi Bhargavan-Chatfield, Judy Burleson, Frank J. Rybicki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Purpose Available data are limited on the level of adherence to established guidelines for appropriate utilization of MR in musculoskeletal imaging. This study estimates the percentage of MRI examinations for knee and shoulder pain or tendonitis performed without prior radiography, which thus may fall outside the ACR Appropriateness Criteria for the Medicare and commercially insured populations. Methods The percentage of MRI examinations for knee and shoulder pain or tendonitis performed without prior radiography was estimated among patients in the Medicare 5% carrier claims limited data set and among commercially insured patients in the Truven Marketscan Treatment Pathways database in 2010. Results Approximately 28% of all knee MRIs, and 35%-37% of all shoulder MRIs were performed without recent prior radiographs. The extrapolated expense of these potentially unwarranted MRIs in the entire fee-for-service Medicare population was between $20 and $35 million. Between 20% and 23% of patients undergoing knee MRI, and 27%-32% undergoing shoulder MRI, did not have radiographic examination at any point before the MRI in the same calendar year. Conclusions MRI performed without prior radiography represents a potential gap in care and should be considered as an area for establishment of performance measures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1053-1058
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American College of Radiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2014


  • Appropriateness criteria
  • decision support
  • overutilization
  • performance measure
  • radiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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