MRI usage in a pediatric emergency department: an analysis of usage and usage trends over 5 years

From Pediatrics:

Background

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) usage has anecdotally increased due to the principles of ALARA and the desire to Image Gently. Aside from a single abstract in the emergency medicine literature, pediatric emergency department MRI usage has not been described.

Objective

Our objective was to determine whether MRI use is indeed increasing at a high-volume urban pediatric emergency department with 24/7 MRI availability. Also, we sought to determine which exams, time periods and demographics influenced the trend.

Materials and methods

Institutional Review Board exemption was obtained. Emergency department patient visit and exam data were obtained from the hospital database for the 2011-2015 time period. MRI usage data were normalized using emergency department patient visit data to determine usage rates. The z-test was used to compare MRI use by gender. The chi-square test was used to test for trends in MRI usage during the study period and in patient age. MRI usage for each hour and each weekday were tabulated to determine peak and trough usage times.

Results

MRI usage rate per emergency department patient visit was 0.36%. Headache, pain and rule-out appendicitis were the most common indications for neuroradiology, musculoskeletal and trunk exams, respectively. Usage in female patients was significantly greater than in males (0.42% vs. 0.29%, respectively, P<0.001). Usage significantly increased during the 5-year period (P<0.001). Use significantly increased from age 3 to 17 (0.011% to 1.1%, respectively, P<0.001). Sixty percent of exams were performed after-hours, the highest volume during the 10 p.m. hour and lowest between 4 a.m. and 9 a.m. MRI use was highest on Thursdays and lowest on Sundays (MRI on 0.45% and 0.22% of patients, respectively).

Conclusion

MRI use in children increased during the study period, most notably in females, on weekdays and after-hours.

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