MSCT scanners outnumber radiologists in Japan

November 22, 2005

More than 80% of the hospitals outfitted with CT scanners in Japan lack qualified radiologists to operate them, according to the Japanese College of Radiology.

More than 80% of the hospitals outfitted with CT scanners in Japan lack qualified radiologists to operate them, according to the Japanese College of Radiology.

A working group of the JCR conducted a survey to figure out the number of CT scanners available in the country. It also sought to account for the number of board-certified radiologists on duty across the archipelago.

The investigators found that 84% of the hospitals equipped with a CT scanner have no full-time board-certified radiologist. More than half of the medical facilities owning a multislice CT system face a similar lack. The group published its findings in the July issue of Nippon Acta Radiologica (2005;65[3]:294-299 [in Japanese]).

The investigation highlighted the low level of MSCT penetration in Japan, a fact that clashes with the country's reputation as a technological hotbed. And even if high-performance diagnostic equipment were available, the shortage of a qualified workforce behind it would prevent Japanese patients from benefiting, they said.

"This shortage of specialists jeopardizes the capability of existing high-performance equipment, because high-quality image diagnoses require the skill and the judgment of a specialist," said author Dr. Yasuo Nakajima, a radiologist at the St. Marianna University School of Medicine in Kawasaki.

MSCT scanners represent 10% of all CT equipment currently available in Japan. In stark contrast, multislice scanners made up 52% of the newly installed CT base in the U.S. for the year 2001, the investigators said.

A lack of financial incentives has dampened MSCT's expansion, and this is also considered the culprit responsible for the shortage of radiologists. Measures should be taken accordingly to correct both problems, the investigators said.

Inferior systems make up a remarkably large proportion of all CT scanners in Japan, according to the investigators. They theorize that healthcare administrators favor installing less expensive models of equipment, in spite of their limited functions, to allocate their resources into satisfying an increasing demand for clinicians.

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