Obese Americans Increasingly Too Obese for Radiology Test Effectiveness

A look at radiology reports from 1989 to 2003, including standard X-rays, computer assisted X-rays known as CT scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET), showed that an increasing number of individuals were ‘habitus limited’ or, in other words, an increading number of obese people are unable to get full medical care because they are either too big to fit into radiology scanners, or their fat is too dense for X-rays or sound waves to penetrate, These scans are used to look for tumors, blood clots, broken limbs and other injuries and diseased organs.

 7,778 or 0.15 percent of 5,253,014 reports were habitus limited, which was about double the numbers from 15 years prior.

Ultrasound tests were most negatively affected by obesity.

Uppot RN, Sahani DV, Hahn PF, Kalra MK, Saini SS, Mueller PR. Effect of Obesity on Image Quality: Fifteen-year Longitudinal Study for Evaluation of Dictated Radiology Reports. Radiology. 2006 Jun 26; [Epub ahead of print]