Radiologist lose piece of the radioisotope pie

December 4, 2009

Endocrinologists are biting into radiology’s control over the management of nuclear imaging procedures involving an administration of radioiodine.

Endocrinologists are biting into radiology’s control over the management of nuclear imaging procedures involving an administration of radioiodine.

An analysis of Medicare patient procedural data by Dr. Charles .M. Intenzo, a nuclear physician at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia found that radiology’s share of procedures involving the administration of radioiodine dropped 7% from 1996 to 2007. At the same time, the number of procedures administered by endocrinologists jumped by nearly one-third (32%).

The total number of such procedures covered by Medicare Part B remained stable over the 10-year period. Medicare covered 13,273 procedures requiring radioiodine in 1996. The total in 2007 was 13,004.

Endocrinology practice revolves around a limited number of applications, so practitioners are naturally attracted to these procedures as a new source of income. Regulatory barriers to their involvement have fallen as the Department of Energy has watered down the minimum training requirements for isotope handling and administration, Intenzo said.