General Advice – July 2020


Are MRI Scan Examinations Overused?


MRI scan examinations are expensive, useful predominantly for soft tissue injuries and should be used as an adjunct to a thorough clinical examination.

Until a few years ago, only Specialists could order MRI scan examinations. That latitude has since been extended. General Practitioners can now order MRI scan examinations for some anatomical regions and the number of regions allowed has also increased.

For example, it is now not uncommon for a patient to present to a General Practitioner with some form of knee pain. Rather than taking a full history, performing a thorough examination and making an accurate clinical diagnosis, the patient is referred immediately for an expensive MRI scan. More often than not, relatively minor changes are noted, not requiring any significant therapeutic intervention, and are often of a variety that would settle on their own accord.

The expense has been incurred through lack of wisdom, laziness and without credence to the public purse.

Like all investigations, MRI scan examinations should be reserved for those cases where the differential diagnosis cannot be distilled to a primary cause.