Controversy over MRI resurfaces in France

The French Society of Radiology (Société Française de Radiologie, SFR) has responded vigorously to comments from the National Health Insurance Fund for Salaried Workers (Caisse Nationale d'Assurance Maladie des Travailleurs Salariés, CNAMTS) alleging that rapid growth in MRI risks encouraging an increase in unnecessary exams.

In a statement released on 30 June, the SFR called for a halt to the confusion about MRI fuelled by the CNAMTS' position. France has just 10.7 MRI machines per million citizens, compared with 20 in the rest of Europe, and an average 30-day appointment wait for urgent cancer patients, this delay extending to 50 days in some regions, according to the statement. Goals for public health strategies in Alzheimer's, cancer, and stroke cannot be met, despite a national drive to increasingly substitute irradiating modalities for MRI.

Given that indications for MRI are increasing 5% to 10% each year in line with results across the literature, and radiation protection remains a constant focus for health and nuclear safety authorities, the SFR said it deplored the CNAMTS' analysis.

"[MRI] meets a concrete need for quality and appropriate care as specified in the Good Practice Guidelines for Imaging (GBU) developed by the SFR and the French Society for Nuclear Medicine," the SFR stated. "The catch-up plan in MRI, sought for many years by imaging professionals is more pertinent than ever if we wish to respond to issues in public health, with regard to quality and emergency care, and also equality in access to innovation across the country."

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