Posts tagged ‘low’

February 9, 2015

Medicare: A Life-Saving Screening Now Covered

CT chestThis past week brought great news for Medicare patients! Medicare is now covering the cost of low-dose screening CT chests in selected patients. Screening with low-dose CT chest has been shown to save lives with the ability to diagnose lung cancer when it is small and more treatable.

Here are the details:

WHO is covered?

  •         Must be between 55 and 77 years of age
  •         Must be a current smoker or have quit smoking in the past 15 years
  •         Must have smoked the equivalent of 30 pack years (that means 1 pack a day for 30 years or 2 packs per day for 15 years, or any other such combination)

WHAT steps are needed for coverage?

  •         Must have a  visit with their referring physician or nurse practitioner prior to the CT for “a shared-decision making/smoking cessation counseling session prior to being referred for their first screening exam.” This is not needed for studies after the first.
  •         Must have an order from the doctor or nurse practitioner.

HOW is the test done?

  •         This is a quick,  non-contrast CT of the chest done with low dose.
  •         This is part of a total program to reduce lung cancer risk, including the most important part – a goal of smoking cessation.
  •         The test is a screening test – meaning, if something is found (about 10% of the time) something else may be recommended – this could mean further imaging, including a CT chest with contrast, PET imaging or short-term follow up CT studies, or could mean a lung biopsy.
  •         This is intended to be repeated annually.
  •         Sites providing coverage must meet many requirements, including specifications on dose and follow-up of patients.

The possibility of decreasing the number of deaths from lung cancer by getting patients into a screening program is exciting.

 

If you or someone you know fits the above criteria, get an appointment with your doctor.  If it’s a loved one, you may be the voice that prompts their action!

 

Screening of smokers with low-dose CT chest is a huge leap forward in the fight against lung cancer.

 

 

 

Diagnostic Imaging Centers blogs on regularly about women’s health at www.mammographykc.com and general radiology at www.diagnosticimagingcenterskc.com. Visit our sites for more helpful information!

May 6, 2014

Oh! The Pain in my Back!

Low back pain by Harrygouvas via Wikimedia Commons Copyright Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0)Lower back pain is common. In fact, in the US it is a leading reason for a trip to see the doctor. There are many causes for back pain – some of them related to the spine and its components and others related to adjacent structures. Things like kidney stones and diverticulitis can present with back pain. There are also times when the source of back pain is never fully found.

 

When should you see your doctor and when is imaging for back pain appropriate?

 

The good thing about back pain is that the natural course for most is improvement of symptoms by around 4 weeks – whether you have specific treatment or not. If you have severe back pain, if it is associated with other symptoms like pain or nerve changes in one of your legs (numbness, burning sensation or tingling) or if symptoms are not improving, a visit to the doctor is in order.

 

There are published guidelines helping your healthcare provider decide if you will benefit from imaging of the spine. A careful history and physical are key.

 

Why not image everyone with back pain? Imaging the spine in the majority of us will show abnormalities – our discs (those cartilage cushions between the vertebral bodies) will begin to show changes as we get older. This is a natural age-related process related to being upright – the discs are only good for so many miles! The problem with imaging for back pain is we will often see abnormalities of the discs – some can even be large and impressive – but they do not always correlate with your symptoms. Imaging can lead to confusion and over-treatment, and for uncomplicated back pain will likely not affect how your back pain is managed.

 

When will imaging for back pain help most? Imaging is recommended for immediate evaluation of some patients with back pain with history or signs that might indicate a serious problem requiring immediate intervention. These include patients with history or signs that might make cancer (a RARE cause of back pain) more likely – things like a known cancer elsewhere in the body or significant weight loss. Signs that there might be an infection are important. Any symptoms that suggest there might be involvement of the nerves to the lower body may also warrant immediate imaging.

 

Imaging after a trial of physical therapy (usually after a 6 week period) may be indicated in patients who fail to show improvement or have worsening of symptoms. Imaging may also be performed if symptoms persist in patients with history of osteoporosis and concern for new fractures.

 

How do we image and which test do we pick? Those will be explored in our next post on back pain!

 

So, if you have low back pain remember that in the vast majority of patients, symptoms will get better – although it may take a few weeks. A visit to your doctor will help determine if imaging is needed and will help in the management of your pain.

Image Credit: Low back pain by Harrygouvas via Wikimedia Commons Copyright Creative CommonsAttribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Diagnostic Imaging Centers blogs on regularly about women’s health atwww.mammographykc.com and general radiology atwww.diagnosticimagingcenterskc.com. Visit our sites for more helpful information!

April 10, 2014

Bone Density: High Impact

Double Dutch Street Performance by Matsuri @ Vancouver City Centre Station by GoToVan via Flickr Copyright Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)And you thought jumping rope was just for fun… Well, it is! But it also might be good for the health of your bones. We’re not saying you have to hit 332 jumps per minute, but even at a leisurely pace, a little jumping can be good for your bones.

 

As it turns out, when bones receive a moderate impact (we’re talking a moderate impact from movement like running or jumping) bones make themselves stronger.

 

In a recent study (playfully titled Physical activity and bone: may the force be with you) it was discovered that young persons, whose bones are still developing, can increase bone density with physical exercise which included moderate impact activities. The hope is that building bone density in young people will help provide protection from future bone loss issues such as osteoporosis, although further research into long-term effects is needed. And these clever scientists weren’t the only ones to find such promising results from moderate impact exercise. In another study of premenopausal women, when bones were subjected to a moderate force from jumping, hip bone density increased.

 

As we age, the risk of bone loss and all its negative side effects increases. One of the best preventives for future problems with osteoporosis is to start with strong bones. These studies show we can improve bone strength over a relatively short period of time with purposeful, moderate impact activity.

 

Want to read more? Check out this article from the New York Times, here. Hop to it!

(Photo credit: Double Dutch Street Performance by 祭 – Matsuri @ Vancouver City Centre Station by GoToVan via Flickr Copyright Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0))

Diagnostic Imaging Centers blogs on regularly about women’s health at www.mammographykc.com and general radiology at www.diagnosticimagingcenterskc.com. Visit our sites for more helpful information!