Referrals to a dedicated cardiac MRI service: who sends what?

Research paper by Michael K MK Atalay, Ethan A EA Prince, John J JJ Cronan

Indexed on: 30 Apr '08Published on: 30 Apr '08Published in: Journal of the American College of Radiology


The purpose of this study was to retrospectively evaluate the referral patterns to the authors' cardiac magnetic resonance imaging service in its first 28 months of operation. In late November 2003, the authors' radiology practice established a cardiac magnetic resonance imaging service for a 719-bed teaching hospital and a 247-bed community hospital. Data relevant to referrals were reviewed. Between December 1, 2003, and April 1, 2006, 780 patients were imaged, 556 (71%) at the teaching hospital. Referrals came from 157 physicians in 17 different medical specialties, including adult cardiology (64%), cardiothoracic surgery (15%), pediatric cardiology (8%), internal medicine (6%), and others (7%). Overall, primary indications were function and viability evaluation (29%), aorta and valve assessment (24%), congenital heart disease (17%), arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia exclusion (13%), cardiac masses (9%), pericardial disease (4%), and others (4%). Referrals for function and viability represented a much greater percentage of cases at the community hospital (53%) than at the teaching hospital (19%). The reverse was true for congenital heart disease (7% vs 21%). This study demonstrates that cardiac specialists generate the vast majority of referrals (87%) to the authors' cardiac magnetic resonance imaging service and that there are substantial differences in the referral patterns between a large teaching hospital and a smaller community hospital.