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Back Pain Health Center

Many Medical Tests, Procedures Not Always Needed

New Public Service Campaign Questions Overuse of Commonly Ordered Tests
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Who?s Involved in the New Campaign? continued...

Including some of the tests and procedures mentioned above, here's a larger list, by medical specialty.

Family physicians say you probably don't need:

  • Imaging tests for low back pain during the first six weeks
  • Antibiotics for mild or moderate sinus infections, unless symptoms last for seven days or symptoms worsen after getting better
  • The DEXA osteoporosis test if you're a woman younger than 65 or a man under 70 with no risk factors
  • Pap tests if you're a woman under age 21 or a woman who had a hysterectomy for a non-cancer reason

The American College of Physicians says you probably don?t need:

  • ECG tests if you don't have symptoms and are at low risk of heart disease
  • Brain imaging (CT or MRI scans) if you fainted and have a normal neurological exam
  • Pre-operative chest X-rays if you don't appear to need them

Cancer doctors say you probably don't need:

  • Treatments aimed at eliminating solid tumors if you are weak and frail, did not benefit from previous treatments, and there's no sign more treatment will help
  • PET, CT, or bone scans if you have early-stage prostate cancer with low risk of spreading
  • PET, CT, or bone scans if you have early-stage breast cancer with low risk of spreading
  • Biomarker tests or imaging surveillance studies if you've had curative treatment for breast cancer

Cardiologists say you probably don't need:

  • Exercise stress tests if you don't have symptoms or high risk of heart disease
  • Exercise stress tests or advanced imaging for routine follow-up exams if you don?t have any symptoms

Gastroenterologists say you probably don't need:

  • Any more than the lowest effective dose of antacids for long-term treatment of reflux (GERD)
  • Repeat colon cancer screening of any kind for 10 years after a screening colonoscopy finds no polyps or tumors
  • Repeat colonoscopy for five years after having one or two small polyps removed via colonoscopy

Radiologists say you probably don't need:

  • Imaging studies if you have uncomplicated headache
  • Imaging studies for pulmonary embolism if you don't have suspicious findings from other tests
  • CT scans in children with suspected appendicitis, until ultrasound has been considered
  • Follow-up imaging studies for ovarian cysts that aren't causing a problem

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