Same-Day Sinus and Brain CT Imaging in the Medicare Population: Are Practice Patterns Changing in Association with Medicare Policy Initiatives?

AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2016 Jun;37(6):1000-4. doi: 10.3174/ajnr.A4670. Epub 2016 Jan 28.


Background and purpose: Monitoring the frequency of same-day sinus and brain CT (Outpatient Measure 14, "OP-14") is part of a recent large Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services hospital outpatient quality initiative to improve imaging efficiency. This study investigates patient-level claims data in the Medicare population focusing on where same-day sinus and brain CT imaging is performed and how the frequency of same-day studies changed with time before and during OP-14 measure program implementation.

Materials and methods: Research Identifiable Files were used to identify all sinus and brain CT examinations from 2004 through 2012 for a 5% random patient sample of Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries. Overall and site of service use rates were calculated for same- and non-same-day examinations. Changes were mapped to policy initiative timetables.

Results: The number of same-day sinus and brain CT studies from 2004 to 2012 increased 67% from 1.85 (95% CI, 1.78-1.91) per 1000 Medicare beneficiaries in 2004 to 3.08 (95% CI, 3.00-3.15) in 2012. The biggest driver of increased same-day studies was the emergency department setting, from 0.56 (95% CI, 0.53-0.60) per 1000 to 1.78 (95% CI, 1.72-1.84; +215.7%). Overall use of brain CT from 146.0 (95% CI, 145.1-146.9) per 1000 to 176.3 (95% CI, 175.4-177.2; +21%) and sinus CT from 12.6 (95% CI, 12.4-12.8) per 1000 to 15.4 (95% CI, 15.2-15.6; +22%) increased until 2009 and remained stable through 2012.

Conclusions: Previously increasing same-day sinus and brain CT in Medicare beneficiaries plateaued in 2009, coinciding with the implementation of targeted measures by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Same-day imaging continues to increase in the emergency department setting.

MeSH terms

  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Medicare*
  • Neuroimaging / statistics & numerical data*
  • Paranasal Sinuses / diagnostic imaging*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States