Since 2000, the number of nonradiologists—mainly endocrinologists—who have been performing therapeutic radioiodine procedures for hyperthyroidism and thyroid cancers has steadily increased, setting up a potential “turf” issue according to researchers who recently presented their findings to attendees at the 2009 RSNA conference.

The group, led by Charles Intenzo, MD, of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, studied the CP-4 codes for Medicare Part B patients from 1996 to 2007 (the latest available) to come to their conclusion that radiologists have seen their share of radioiodine treatments erode.

In 1996, radiologists performed 73% of radioiodine procedures, nonradiologists performed 22% and physicians in multi-specialty groups performed the balance (5%). By 2007, that number had changed to 69% for radiologists and 30% for nonradiologists—primarily endocrinologists—and 1% for multi-specialty physicians.

The researchers noted that the increase in nonradiologists performing these treatments were tied to new rulings issued by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2000 that lowered the training hours for therapeutic radioiodine to 80, and opened the way for the increase in endocrinologists and other nonradiologists to perform these treatments.

The researchers also discovered that the overall number of radioiodine treatments on Medicare patients decreased by 2% during this same period.


(Source: Abstract from RSNA 2009 (RSNA2009.RSNA.Org)