Increased utilization of advanced medical imaging, such as CT and MRI, between 1991 and 2004 improved life expectancy rates by a significant factor, according to a study conducted by Columbia University professor Frank Lichtenberg, Ph.D.

Furthermore, research showed that the medical imaging’s influence on life expectancy rates were even greater than the increases in mortality caused by obesity over the same timeframe.

Released through the National Bureau of Economic Research, results of “The Quality of Medical Care, Behavioral Risk Factors, and Longevity Growth” determined that life expectancy increased more rapidly in states that experienced larger increases in utilization of advanced medical imaging. Nevertheless, those same states did not have larger increases in per capita medical expenditure.
Commenting on this finding, Lichtenberg concluded “this may be the case because, while newer diagnostic procedures and drugs are more expensive than their older counterparts, they may reduce the need for costly additional medical treatment. The absence of a correlation across states between medical innovation and expenditure growth is inconsistent with the view that advances in medical technology have contributed to rising overall U.S. health care spending.”
Advanced medical imaging techniques were attributed with increasing life expectancy by 0.62 to 0.71 years (out of a total 2.37 year increase) over the 14-year period. During this same period, there was a 0.58 to 0.68 year decrease in life expectancy due to increased prevalence of obesity.