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Back Pain Health Center

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Many Medical Tests, Procedures Not Always Needed

New Public Service Campaign Questions Overuse of Commonly Ordered Tests

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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