MRI Lower Sense of Well-Being!

Reference:Ash LM, et al Effects of diagnostic information, per se, on patient outcomes in acute radiculopathy and low back pain. AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2008 Jun;29(6):1098-103. Epub 2008 May 8.

Physicians admit that they sometimes order spinal imaging such as x-rays or MRIs in order to re-assure patients and often simply because patients expect them to!

In this randomized study 246 patients with acute low back pain and/or radiculopathy received MRIs but

…half of them were blinded; where both the MD and the patients did not receive the MRI results

…half of them were unblinded; where both the MD and the patients received their MRI results within 48 hours

After 6 weeks of conservative management, most clinical outcome were similar for both the blinded and unblinded patients.

…however, general health of the blinded group improved more than for the unblinded group (P = .008).

Conclusion: Knowledge of MRI results, result in a lesser sense of well-being.

Clinical Relevance: I personally believe having a 3-6 months waiting list in order to get an MRI for a non-‘red flag’ low back pain is actually advantageous in Canada.
Certainly there is no evidence that early access to MRIs as they have in the USA has in any shape or form improved patient outcomes!!

Posted on: December 15, 2011

Categories: Lumbar Spine

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