The increasing role of nonradiologists in performing ultrasound-guided invasive procedures

J Am Coll Radiol. 2013 Nov;10(11):859-63. doi: 10.1016/j.jacr.2013.04.016. Epub 2013 Sep 26.


Purpose: Recent proliferation of mobile diagnostic ultrasound (US) units and improved resolution have allowed for widespread use of US by more providers, both for diagnosis and US-guided procedures (USGP). This study aims to document recent trends in utilization for USGP in the Medicare population.

Methods: Source data were obtained from the CMS Physician Supplier Procedure Summary Master Files from 2004 to 2010. Allowed billing claims submitted for USGP were extracted and volume was analyzed by provider type and setting. Compound annual growth rates were calculated.

Results: The total utilization rate for all USGP was 2,425 per 100,000 in 2004 and 4,870 in 2010, an increase of 100.8% (+2,445 per 100,000) with a compound annual growth rate of 12.3%. The year 2010 represents the first year that nonradiologists as a group performed more USGP than radiologists, at 922,672 versus 794,497 examinations, respectively. Nonradiologists accounted for 72.2% (599,751 of 830,925) of the USGP volume growth from 2004 to 2010. Most 2010 claims were submitted by radiologists (n = 794,497; 46.3%) and surgeons (n = 332,294; 19.4%). The largest overall volume increases from 2004 to 2010 were observed among radiologists, surgeons, anesthesiologists, rheumatologists, midlevel providers, primary care physicians, nonrheumatologist internal medicine subspecialists, and the aggregate of all other provider types.

Conclusion: The year 2010 represents the first year that nonradiologists performed more USGP than radiologists. From 2004 to 2010, radiologists and surgeons experienced only modest growth in USGP volume, whereas several other provider types experienced more rapid growth. It is likely that many procedures that were previously performed without US guidance are now being performed with US guidance.

Keywords: Medicare; Ultrasound; aspiration; health care economics; injection; invasive procedures; nonradiologists; percutaneous biopsy; ultrasound-guided procedures; utilization.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Medicare Part A / statistics & numerical data*
  • Physicians / statistics & numerical data*
  • Radiology* / statistics & numerical data
  • Surgery, Computer-Assisted / statistics & numerical data*
  • Ultrasonography, Interventional / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States
  • Workforce