Rate of MRI and CT/PET scans ordered or provided have tripled from 1996 to 2007

A boom in medical technology over the past decade or two has led to a surge in certain medical tests and increased prescription drug use, say authors of a report that provides a snapshot of Americans’ health today.Imaging, assisted reproductive technologies, prescription drugs and knee replacements have all seen a dramatic rise since the early ’90s, says Amy Bernstein, the report’s lead author, a health scientist for the National Center for Health Statistics. The center, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, released the 33rd annual Report on the Nation’s Health Wednesday. It includes a special section on health technology.


“There are newer and better technologies all the time, and they’re changing the face of health care and practice patterns,” Bernstein says.

She points to report findings that show the use of statin drugs, which lower cholesterol, increased almost tenfold from 1994 to 2006 in adults over age 45.

“One of the reasons cholesterol is declining and people are living longer with heart disease is because we have better drugs. Technologies can be very helpful,” she says.

Other indications from the report of how medical technology has heavily influenced medical treatments Americans receive:

•Imaging: Rate of MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and CT/PET (computed tomography/positron emission tomography) scans ordered or provided in doctors offices and emergency departments tripled from 1996 to 2007.

Knee replacement: Rate of adults 45 and over discharged from the hospital after receiving at least one knee replacement increased 70% from 1996 to 2006 (26.5 per 10,000 in 1996 vs. 45.2 per 10,000 in 2006).

•Diabetes medicines: Anti-diabetic drug use by people 45 and up increased about 55% when comparing 1988-1994 with 2003-2006 figures.

Kidney transplants: New kidney transplants per 1 million people have risen 31% (43.7 per 1 million in 1997 vs. 57.2 in 2006).

Liver transplants: They rose 42% from 1997 to 2006 (15.6 per 1 million in 1997 vs. 22.2 in 2006).

Prescription drugs: The percentage of the population taking at least one prescription drug during the previous month increased from 38% in 1988-1994 to 47% in 2003-2006, and the percentage taking three or more prescription drugs increased from 11% to 21%.

In general, the report sends a positive message, says Phil Hagen, vice chair of the division of preventive medicine at Mayo Clinic. “We’re winning the battle in some diseases, particularly cardiovascular disease.”

There’s still room for improvement, says Lloyd Michener, director of the Duke Center for Community Research. “The report helps us rethink where we’re headed,” he says. “It’s a call for accelerated efforts that will build partnerships between academic medical centers and public health groups in order to address some of our persistent health issues.”

 Via USA Today