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Do You Need a Musculoskeletal Radiologist on Staff?

December 24, 2009
Written by: , Filed in: Diagnostic Imaging, Musculoskeletal Radiology
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Diagnostic accuracy of MR imaging or MR arthography of the shoulder depends on the radiologist’s training level, and a musculoskeletal radiologist may do a better job than a general one. That’s what researchers found in a study recently published in Skeletal Radiology. Reviewing charts from 238 patients who had MRI or direct MR arthography before surgery, the researchers found that diagnosis was more accurate in tests performed by hospital-based musculoskeletal radiologists than those done by community-based general radiologists.

Here’s how the accuracy rates compared, by disorders, when evaluating unenhanced MRI:

Accuracy Rates of General Radiologists
Labrum: 46%
Rotator cuff: 75%
Biceps: 96%
Humeral head: 96%

Accuracy Rates of Musculoskeletal Radiologists
Labrum: 79%
Rotator cuff: 93%
Biceps: 96%
Humeral head: 96%

Similar discrepancies appeared when comparing the evaluation of MRAs.

The study has some limitations, including¬†retrospective design and selection bias, says¬†Rahul Pawar, MD, who reviewed the study.¬† “Although we should be cautious in extrapolating the results of this study to other subspecialties within radiology, it is important to note the superior diagnostic accuracy that some subspecialty trained radiologists can achieve,” Pawar says.

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