More Thoracic Biopsies Performed by Radiologists

November 4, 2013

Radiologists behind increase in percutaneous thoracic biopsies, resulting in fewer invasive biopsies.

Radiologists are increasingly responsible for thoracic diagnosis as they perform more thoracic biopsies than ever before, according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology. Researchers from Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and Jefferson Medical College, in Philadelphia, Penn., sought to examine the utilization rate of various types of thoracic biopsies within the Medicare population. Primary claims submitted percutaneous thoracic biopsy, bronchoscopic thoracic biopsy, and surgical thoracic biopsy between 1998 and 2010 were reviewed. There were 176,125 total thoracic biopsies in 1998 and a drop to 167,911 (-4.7 percent) in 2010. There was a decrease from 5.47 per 1,000 in 1998 to 4.76 per 1,000 (−13.0%) in 2010 for all thoracic biopsies. There was an increase in percutaneous biopsy of 3.6 percent, decrease in surgical biopsy by 29.0 percent, and decrease in bronchoscopic biopsy by 19.6 percent. “In 2010, radiologists performed 96.4 percent (58,679) of all percutaneous biopsies,” the authors wrote. “Radiologists' thoracic biopsy market share increased from 26.2 percent (46,084 of 176,125) in 1998 to 35.0 percent (58,700 of 167,911) in 2010 (+33.6%).” The researchers concluded that radiologists are responsible for the increasing role of thoracic diagnosis, which may be the result of changing trends to less invasive procedures, differing patterns of reimbursement, and increased  availability of percutaneous biopsy.