Archive for the ‘Medical News’ Category

January 8, 2014

Low Dose Lung Cancer CT Screenings Will Now be Covered by All Insurance Plans

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) gave a final “B” grade to its earlier recommendation that adults aged 55 and 80 who have a 30 pack-year smoking history and currently smoke, or have quit within the past 15 years, receive annual CT scans to detect lung cancer. Preventive services that are given an “A” or “B” rating by USPSTF must be reimbursed by insurers at no cost to patients under the Affordable Care Act.

The American College of Radiology (ACR) fully supports the USPSTF’s recommendation and they are working to complete the practice guidelines that cover how lung cancer screening CT exams are performed, interpreted and results are communicated.

The Affordable Care Act requires that Medicare and private insurers provide coverage of all medical exams or procedures that receive a grade of “B” or higher from the USPSTF. Imaging Healthcare Specialists has been proactive in performing low dose lung cancer CT screenings, but now, anyone who is high risk for lung cancer based on the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) will be able to get this exam paid for by their insurance carrier.

Imaging Healthcare Specialists has been able to generate exceptionally high quality CT images while reducing radiation by up to 90% and that is why we are, and continue to be, the low dose leader in San Diego County. Our patient’s health matters to the entire team at Imaging Healthcare Specialists and that is why we are the first to join efforts in San Diego to fight against lung cancer and help our patients get the diagnosis they need to detect cancer early, when its most easily treated and to save more lives.

If you want to know if you qualify for a low dose lung cancer CT screening, visit http://www.imaginghealthcare.com/lungcancer or visit your doctor today.

September 24, 2013

Study: Lack of Breast Screening Leads to More Cancer Deaths

A new study has been published in the journal Cancer, and it found that 70% of deaths from breast cancer in a group of more than 7,000 women occurred in individuals who did not receive regular screening mammograms. Researchers believe that the findings indicate that breast screening saves lives— particularly for women in their 40s.

Researchers tracked invasive breast cancers diagnosed between 1990 and 1999, and followed through 2007. Findings included that among 609 confirmed breast cancer deaths, 29% were among women who had been screened with mammography, while 71% were among women who were not screened regularly. Also, the women who died of breast cancer were younger. Of all breast cancer deaths, only 13% occurred in women age 70 or older, but 50% occurred in women younger than 50.

Our entire team at Imaging Healthcare Specialists wants to remind women of the importance of obtaining a mammogram each year. We know that it can be difficult to remember when your last mammogram was, and a few years may have gone by since your last one and you may not have realized it. The American Cancer Society recommends women get yearly mammograms starting at age 40, and based on the findings from this study this still remains true.

If you would like to schedule your mammogram at one of our convenient locations, please contact Imaging Healthcare Specialists at 866-588-4320 or click here to request a mammogram online.

To read the complete Cancer article, click here.

June 27, 2013

New Guidelines for Oncological CMS Coverage of FDG-PET (PT/CT)

Effective June 11, 2013 CMS Will Cover Three (3) PT/CT Scans for All Clinical Indications Formerly Covered Under NOPR

CMS Coverage for Initial Treatment Strategy (ITS) – CMS will continue to cover an ITS FDG-PET (PT/CT) scan for beneficiaries when it is needed to determine anti-tumor strategy for the following reasons:

  • To determine appropriateness for beneficiary to receive an  invasive diagnostic or therapeutic procedure
  • To determine the location for an invasive procedure
  • To determine the extent of the tumor when the anti-tumor treatment is dependent on the extent of the tumor

CMS Coverage for Subsequent Treatment Strategy (STS) – CMS will cover FDG-PET (PT/CT) scans for beneficiaries when used for guiding subsequent management of anti-tumor treatment strategy.

  • Coverage of more than 3 FDG-PET (PT/CT) scans shall be determined by the local Medicare Administrative Contractors (MAC)

 For More Information Click Here!

June 5, 2013

June is Men’s Health Month

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May 13, 2013

New California State Law Regarding Dense Breast Tissue

A new California State Law (Senate Bill 1538) requires that lay summaries about a woman’s breast density be sent in addition to the letter she already receives from the radiologist after every mammogram. Thus, on April 1, 2013, in compliance with the new California state law, we began sending the following information to patients with heterogeneously or extremely dense breast tissue:

“Your mammogram shows that your breast tissue is dense. Dense breast tissue is common   and is not abnormal. However, dense breast tissue can make it harder to evaluate the results of your mammogram and may also be associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.

 This information about the results of your mammogram is given to you to raise you awareness and to inform your conversation with your doctor. Together, you can decide which screening options are right for you. A report of your results was sent to your physician.”

Imaging Healthcare Specialists realizes that receipt of this information may raise patient anxiety and result in more inquiries to you. Our radiologists strongly support evidence-based medical decision-making and have resources to help guide patients and their clinical providers to determine if any supplemental screening is recommended.

October 26, 2012

Important Information Regarding New England Compounding Center

As you may be aware from news reports, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is investigating a multi-state outbreak of meningitis and fungal infections among patients who received spinal or joint injections of a potentially contaminated corticosteroid known as Methylprednisolone Acetate manufactured by New England Compounding Center (NECC).

We want to reassure our patients and physician community that Imaging Healthcare Specialists has not purchased or used Methylprednisolone Acetate or any other products manufactured by NECC.  

The safety and well-being of our patients is our primary concern and we will continue to provide relevant information as it becomes available. To learn more about this investigation or to get a list of NECC customers, please visit the FDA website.

July 12, 2012

IHS First in U.S. to Offer Imaging Diagnosis for Alzheimer’s

On Friday,July 6, 2012, Imaging Healthcare Specialists became the first imaging center in San Diego County and among the first in the nation to offer patients PET brain imaging with Amyvid™, the radioactive agent which can detect the presence or absence of amyloid plaques in the brain as part of a diagnostic evaluation to determine if a patient has the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Amyvid was FDA approved in April 2012 and released to select imaging centers across the United States by Eli Lilly on June 1, 2012. In accordance with FDA guidelines, Imaging Healthcare Specialists will use the scan only in people who already have cognitive decline and in conjunction with traditional clinical evaluation.

In this new procedure, patients are injected with a short-acting radioactive agent called florbetapir (Amyvid), which binds to amyloid plaques in the brain that are the hallmark of AD. The patient is then scanned with positron emission tomography (PET) which can detect the presence or absence of amyloid plaque.

According to Mark Schechter, MD, a board-certified diagnostic radiologist and Medical Director of PET Imaging at Imaging Healthcare Specialists, the release of Amyvid for use in patients is a major advance in diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease.

“Until now, the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease has been made clinically” said Dr. Schechter, “and could only be confirmed at autopsy.” He added, “This test is a diagnostic adjunct to other clinical evaluation methods, such as physical examination, laboratory evaluation, and neuropsychiatric/cognitive testing, and should only be used to confirm an AD diagnosis in the cognitively impaired patient. Although this test cannot detect very low levels of amyloid plaque, a negative test means that the cognitive impairment is likely due to some cause other than AD.”

This news comes following the May announcement by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius of a national plan to fight Alzheimer’s disease and find effective treatment and prevention methods by 2025. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 90 percent of what we know about Alzheimer’s has been discovered in the last 15 years.

Jon M. Robins, M.D., CEO of Imaging Healthcare Specialists, emphasized that the organization has a long-standing tradition of being an early adopter of technology.

“We are truly privileged to become the first imaging center in the region to implement the use of Amyvid in patients outside of a clinical research study. We believe that this is an important diagnostic tool that advances the early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease.”

Currently, health insurance does not cover this scan so patients must pay out of pocket.

About five million Americans already have Alzheimer’s disease and the numbers are expected to soar as Baby Boomers age to approximately 15 million. The Alzheimer’s Association says the annual cost of Alzheimer’s to the United States could increase from $200 million in 2012 to more than $1 trillion by 2050.

Imaging Healthcare Specialists (IHS) has 11 offices throughout San Diego and south Riverside Counties, including Temecula, Oceanside, Encinitas, Poway, La Jolla, Chula Vista and San Diego.

June 6, 2012

San Diego Radiology Group at Forefront of Dose Reduction

Imaging Healthcare Specialists was featured as a progressive provider by Imaging Economics. Read about how IHS is leading industry dose reduction at their website here: http://www.imagingeconomics.com/techedge/2012-06-06_06.asp#.T8-pHxBF91k.email

November 14, 2011

Ultra Low-Dose CT Might Not Mean an Equipment Upgrade

The following article was written by Whitney L.J. Howell for diagnosticimaging.com:

Bringing your low-dose CT protocols down even further doesn’t have to mean tossing out your old scanners and buying pricey new ones. According to one San Diego-based imaging center, you can trim radiation doses to almost nothing and still get high-quality scans appropriate for diagnosis.

The key is pairing iterative reconstruction (IR) with other methods that tailor low-dose protocols based on patient weight, said Jon M. Robins, MD, co-chief executive officer for Imaging Healthcare Specialists (IHS). IR technology wipes noise from CT scans, leaving behind an image with clear resolution. Using both strategies together means Robins wasn’t forced to purchase new scanning equipment.

“Our center made a commitment a few years back to offer the lowest dose CT scans we could. We have older scanners in my office – 4-slice, 8-slice, and so on – and I didn’t want to spend the $90,000 to $100,000 on technology with low-dose characteristics built in,” said Robins, who is also IHS’s heart imaging medical director. “IR has allowed us to extend our low-dose efforts to head and neck scans, pelvis, colonoscopy, sinus, and others.”

IHS purchased its IR technology – generic iterative retrospective reconstruction (GIRR) – from a third-party vendor in Israel. According to Robins, it interfaces with older scanners, enabling the machines to produce ultra low-dose images with clarity equal to scans from more modern technologies.

Since implementing IR in August, he said, IHS has achieved a 90 percent dose reduction in nearly 1,500 scans. This drop includes the initial 40 percent reduction IHS produced several years ago by using a patient’s body mass index to tailor each protocol. In addition, Robins said, the practice uses breast shields, includes contrast only when absolutely necessary, and doesn’t delay studies as ways to shave off radiation exposure.

However, Paul Kinahan, PhD, a University of Washington-Seattle radiology professor, said he was skeptical that such a significant dose reduction is possible with older scanners. It’s a claim that requires much clinical testing and evidence-based data, he said.

“This is certainly an area of a lot of interest, and it’s one that many in radiology feel is worth pursuing,” Kinahan said. “But demonstrating a reduction in radiation dose and getting an image of equal diagnosis quality on vintage equipment armed with a third-party product gives me pause.”

In many cases, he said, radiologists dislike the images IR produces, citing the amount of noise that remains. To overcome this issue, many technologists blend IR images with established analytical methods to reach some dose reduction while maintaining image clarity.

Robins agreed the ultimate quality of IR-generated images depends on quality of the image it’s asked to clean. So, before you make any changes to workflow, he recommended you examine every protocol for all your scans to determine what dose will give you both a low-dose, high-quality study.

“I’ve been extraordinarily excited by this technology, and I’ve even given the scans to colleagues to read. They didn’t know it was an ultra low-dose image produced through IR until I told them,” Robins said. “Using this technology has greatly impacted our promise to pursue the lowest-dose CT scans possible. I haven’t been disappointed.”

October 13, 2011

New Research Shows PET Imaging Effective in Predicting Lung Cancer Outcomes

In a recent study out of the Seidman Cancer Center at University Hospitals (UH) Case Medical Center, it was found that Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans helped a great deal in predicting which inoperable lung cancer tumors needed additional treatments. Not only do PET scans help in identifying lung cancer “hot spots”, but have now been shown to help doctors choose more effective methods for treating such cancer.

You can read more about this study, you can click here.