MR screening moves into CT void

November 5, 2004

Some walk-in CT clinics in the U.S. may be closing their doors, but the concept of consumer-led preventive imaging is far from dead, particularly in Asia. Interest there is switching to MR as a screening tool to reassure "the worried well" and reveal dormant disease.

During the last four years, for example, more than 4000 people have undergone a whole-body MR exam at the Imaging Center at Veterans General Hospital (VGH) in Taipei, Taiwan. Self-referrals account for most whole-body MR exams, which are available to anyone who can pay ($US1000 for complete tumor survey and another $US1000 for neurovascular or cardiac assessment).

Charles H. Cheng, Ph.D., an attending physician in the VGH radiology department, acknowledges that the screening program will attract criticism, but he insists that the whole-body scans will do more good than harm.

"Many people from countries that have comprehensive primary healthcare systems misunderstand what we are doing. They do not realize that what works in Asia is sometimes different from what works elsewhere," Cheng said at the 2004 Asian and Oceanian Congress of Radiology.