Purpose: Oncologic imaging in the emergency department (ED) is frequently encountered, including non-acute scans known as "metastatic workups" or "staging" (referred to as "cancer staging computed tomography (CT) exams"). This study examines the impact of oncologic staging CT exams on ED imaging turnaround time (TAT), defined as the time from the end of the CT exam to a final signed radiologist report, as well as order to scan completion time.
Methods: A retrospective review was conducted of all adult patients presenting to an urban, quaternary academic medical center ED from February 2016 to September 2017, who had CT imaging ordered, performed, and interpreted in the ED imaging department. CT exams containing institution-specific cancer descriptors were included. After excluding all acute exams, cancer staging CT exams were compared to a matched cohort of non-oncologic ED CT exams to evaluate median TAT and order to scan completion time using a log transformed multivariable linear regression.
Results: Adjusting for age and CT body part, cancer staging CT exams were associated with an independently statistically significant increased median log TAT compared to non-oncologic ED CT exams (114.5 min [IQR 112] versus 69 min [IQR 67], respectively, p < .0001) and an independently statistically significant increased median log initial order to scan completion time (166 min [IQR: 89] vs 119 min [IQR: 93], p < .0001).
Conclusion: Oncology patients receiving non-acute metastatic workup scans in the ED have a significantly longer TAT compared to non-oncologic ED CT exams as well as longer order to scan completion times.
Keywords: CT scan; Cancer imaging; Emergency imaging.
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