More MRI and CT machines, more exams performed

    New study shows Canada below OECD median for rates of scanners, despite
    increase over four years

    OTTAWA, Aug. 21 /CNW Telbec/ - The supply of magnetic resonance imaging
(MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scanners in Canada increased significantly
over four years, according to a new report from the Canadian Institute for
Health Information (CIHI). Medical Imaging in Canada, 2007 reports that in
2007, there were 419 CT scanners and 222 MRI machines installed and
operational in Canada, up from 325 and 149, respectively, in 2003. In the most
recent year, between 2006 and 2007, the number of CT scanners increased by 27
and the number of MRI scanners increased by 21. The rate of MRI and CT exams
performed per 1,000 population in Canada rose by 43% and 28%, respectively, in
the four years between 2003 and 2007, and rose by 4% and 5%, respectively, in
the most recent year.
    Despite the increases, Canada, with 12 CT scanners and 6 MRI machines per
million population, falls below the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and
Development (OECD) median of 15 CT scanners and 7 MRI machines per million
population in 2005, the latest year for which data are available. There were
103 CT exams per 1,000 people performed in Canada in 2007, less than the rate
performed in both the United States (207) and Belgium (138), but higher than
the rate in Sweden (89), Spain (57), England (54) and Denmark (34). In
comparison, Canada's rate of MRI exams per 1,000 population (31) was higher
than that in England (25), Spain (21) and Denmark (17), and lower than in the
U.S. (89), Belgium (43) and Sweden (39). Information on scans per 1,000
population was available for only six OECD countries other than Canada.
    "Increases in the number of imaging scanners over the last few years mean
that the majority currently installed and in use in Canada are less than six
years old," says Francine Anne Roy, Director of Health Resources Information
at CIHI. "These newer machines are using the latest technology to produce more
detailed scans."

    More exams performed per scanner, newer technology

    The average number of MRI exams performed per scanner in Canada was 5,123
in 2007, up from 4,408 in 2003; for CT scanners, the average number of exams
performed per scanner increased from 7,411 in 2003 to 8,735 in 2007. At the
same time, the hours of operation for MRI scanners increased only slightly
between 2003 and 2007 (66 to 71 hours per week) and decreased slightly for CT
scanners (62 to 60 hours per week).
    The newest CT scanners have the capacity to obtain 64-slice pictures,
meaning improved images, greater imaging speed and more coverage, enabling
advances in non-invasive cardiac imaging and virtual colonoscopy.
Sixty-four-slice machines have been available in Canada since 2004. In recent
years, 64-slice scanners have represented more than 70% of new CT
    Positron emission tomography (PET) is a type of nuclear medicine
examination used to detect cancerous tumours, some brain disorders and
diseases of the heart and other organs. Another new technology combines PET
and CT imaging, allowing physicians to examine both the function of an organ
and the anatomical details of its tissues at the same time. As of January 1,
2007, there were 18 PET/CT scanners in Canada and 13 PET scanners.

    More scanners in both hospitals and free-standing facilities

    All provinces have CT and MRI scanners in hospitals, where almost all of
their operating costs are covered by public insurance. Between 2003 and 2007,
the number of CT scanners in hospitals grew by 82, while the number of MRI
scanners grew by 58.
    Imaging services are also provided outside of hospitals in free-standing
imaging facilities. CT and MRI scanners in free-standing facilities are found
in four (Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia) and six (Nova Scotia,
Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia) provinces,
respectively, with most of their operation privately funded. Between 2003 and
2007, the number of MRI scanners in free-standing imaging facilities increased
from 26 to 41. Over the same time period, the number of CT scanners in
free-standing imaging facilities grew from 9 to 21. As of January 2007, about
5% of all CTs and 18% of all MRIs were in free-standing facilities. This is up
from 3% and 17%, respectively, in 2003.
    In general, more exams per scanner are performed in hospitals than in
free-standing facilities. For jurisdictions with MRI scanners in free-standing
facilities, hospitals performed about twice the number of MRI exams per
scanner than free-standing facilities (5,970 versus 2,530). In jurisdictions
with CT scanners in free-standing facilities, the number of CT exams per
scanner performed in hospitals was more than four times that in free-standing
facilities (9,506 versus 2,160).

    Supply of medical imaging professionals remains constant

    The number of medical imaging professionals per 100,000 population
remained steady between 2003 and 2006, the latest year available. Canada's
16,464 medical radiation technologists made up the bulk of the workforce in
2006, up from 15,289 in 2003. Some other medical imaging professionals include
sonographers (3,000 in 2003, down to 2,900 in 2006), diagnostic radiology
physicians (1,906 in 2003, up to 2,034 in 2006), nuclear medicine physicians
(213 in 2003, up to 221 in 2006) and medical physicists (350 in 2003, down to
322 in 2006).

    About CIHI

    The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) collects and
analyzes information on health and health care in Canada and makes it publicly
available. Canada's federal, provincial and territorial governments created
CIHI as a not-for-profit, independent organization dedicated to forging a
common approach to Canadian health information. CIHI's goal: to provide
timely, accurate and comparable information. CIHI's data and reports inform
health policies, support the effective delivery of health services and raise
awareness among Canadians of the factors that contribute to good health.

    The report, as well as the following figures and table, is available from
    CIHI's website at

    Figure 1  Number of MRI and CT Scanners, Canada, 1990 to 2007 (Figure 13
              in the report)

    Table 1   Average Number of MRI and CT Exams per 1,000 Population, per
              Scanner for Selected Countries, 2006-2007 or Latest Available
              Year (adapted from Table 7 in the report)

    Figure 2  Average Age of Selected Medical Imaging Equipment, 2003 and
              2007, Canada (Figure 17 in the report)

    Figure 3  Number of CT Scanners per Million Population in OECD Countries,
              2005 (Figure 39 in the report)

    Figure 4  Number of MRI Scanners per Million Population in OECD
              Countries, 2005 (Figure 40 in the report)

    Figure 5  Number of MRI and CT Scanners in Free-Standing Imaging
              Facilities, Canada, 1998 to 2007 (Figure 19 in the report)

    Figure 6  Number of Selected Medical Imaging Professionals, Canada, 2006
              (Figure 62 in the report)

For further information:

For further information: Media contacts: Leona Hollingsworth, (613)
241-7860 ext. 4140, Cell: (613) 612-3914,; Jennie
Hoekstra, (613) 241-7860 ext. 4331, Cell: (613) 725-4097,

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