More children are anesthetized before undergoing MRI examinations than ever before, according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology.
Researchers from Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, sought to investigate trends in anesthetics among children undergoing MRI.
The researchers obtained claims data of children, from birth to 18 years old, who had undergone MRI scans from 2011 to 2014. They found 17,221 MRI encounters and 18,543 separate exams. There were approximately 11 to 12 encounters per 10,000 member-months.
The results showed that the need for anesthesia among these children increased from 21% to 28% of encounters over 2011 to 2014. The claims were divided into 1- to 6-year-old, 7- to 12-year-old, and 12- to 18-year-old subgroups. The highest percentage of increased use of anesthetics was among the 1- to 6-year olds (monthly increase of 0.64%), and the smallest among the 7- to 12-year olds (monthly increase of 0.42%).
Increasing need for anesthesia could not be attributed to secular trends in patient demographics or types of examinations ordered, the authors wrote. Paid cost data were available for outpatient MRIs, and MRIs with sedation accounted for an increasing share of these costs (from 22% in 2011 to 33% in 2014).
The researchers concluded that the growing need for anesthesia among children undergoing MRI exams is increasing costs and could pose a problem to accountable care organization cost containment.