Objectives To determine the appropriateness of medical imaging examinations involving radiation and to estimate the effective radiation dose and costs associated. Design Cross-sectional retrospective study. Setting Two Spanish public tertiary hospitals. Participants 2022 medical imaging tests were extracted from the radiology information system in February and March of 2014. MRI and ultrasound examinations were excluded. Primary and secondary outcome measures Five outcomes were set independently by at least two researchers according to four guidelines: (1) appropriate; (2) inappropriate; (3) inappropriate due to repetition, if the timing to carry out next diagnostic tests was incorrect according to guidelines; (4) not adequately justified, if the referral form did not include enough clinical information to allow us to understand the patient’s clinical condition; and (5) not included in the guidelines, if the referral could not be matched to a clinical scenario described in the guidelines. We estimated the prevalence of the five categories according to relevant clinical and sociodemographic variables and the effective radiation dose and costs for each category. Results Approximately half of the imaging tests were deemed as appropriate (967, 47.8%) while one-third (634, 31.4%) were considered inappropriate. 19.6% of the effective dose and 25.2% of the cost were associated with inappropriate tests. Women were less likely than men to have an imaging test classified as appropriate (adjusted OR 0.70,95% CI 0.57 to 0.86). Imaging tests requested by general practitioners were less likely to be considered appropriate than those requested by central services (adjusted OR 0.60, 95% CI 0.38 to 0.93). Mammography and CT were more likely to be appropriate than conventional X-rays. Conclusion There was a significant frequency of inappropriateness, which resulted in a high percentage of associated effective radiation dose. Percentage of inappropriateness depends on sociodemographic and clinical characteristics such as sex, age, referral physician and medical imaging test.
Open access, Radiology and imaging