Clinical utility of chest roentgenograms

Eur Radiol. 1999;9(4):721-3. doi: 10.1007/s003300050741.


Because chest roentgenograms are the most common radiological procedure, they represent a considerable use of resources. Because the usefulness of chest radiography is frequently disputed, it is mandatory to investigate whether or not this use of resources can be defended in terms of clinical utility. The current study was performed as an outcome analysis to assess the clinical utility of chest radiography for monitoring patients in general practice (GP). One year of chest radiography referrals from a municipality practice, comprising a total of 55 patients, were prospectively studied. Prior to the referrals, questionnaires were filled in with indications and expected results. After the examination, the radiological results were assessed regarding clinical utility. All 55 patients were carefully monitored by the same GP. The most frequent reason for referral was infectious disease. Only in 5 patients was the radiology report without value. In the 29 patients with a negative report, it was considered of value. In 7 of these 29 patients the ongoing treatment was altered. The subjective value of the radiology reports were considered to be high. The clinical utility was good, both when receiving positive and negative answers. Of special interest was the negative answers as 7 patients actually changed treatment. The clinical utility was considered high enough to justify the costs. Good access to radiology for GPs is both cost-saving and cost-effective.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Family Practice / economics
  • Family Practice / methods
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Norway
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care / economics
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Radiography, Thoracic / economics
  • Radiography, Thoracic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Thoracic Diseases / diagnostic imaging