The study compared utilization of radiography (low-tech imaging) to CT and MR (high tech imaging) in 15 countries (U.S., Canada, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, South Korea, China, India, Singapore, Indonesia, Brazil and Mexico) to determine how the world's radiology resources were being used.
Germany, Singapore and South Korea had the highest per capita utilization for X-ray, with the lowest utilization in India, China and Indonesia, said Mark Schweitzer, MD, of the Hospital for Joint Diseases for Orthopedic Institute in New York, and one of the authors of the study.
On the other hand, the U.S. had the highest per capita use of MR and CT, almost 10 times more than Singapore and Germany, which each ranked second in per capita utilization of high-tech imaging. The lowest MR usage was in India, China and Indonesia.
"X-ray use per capita varied by a factor of three between less and more developed nations while MR and CT use varied by a factor of 100," Dr. Schweitzer said.
When income was factored into the equation, some of the world's poorest countries (India, China and Indonesia,) had the highest utilization of X-rays relative to dollars of income. "Not surprisingly, the most capital intensive countries more often used CT and MRI," he said. France was an outlier among wealthier nations, he noted.
The study authors did not specifically research reasons for the global differences, but "who is paying for the studies may be a driving force in image utilization," Dr. Schweitzer said.
The study was based on 2001 data from multiple national and regional organizations, vendor data and data from the U.S. Department of Commerce and the World Bank.
The study will be presented on M