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P086: Effectiveness of interventions to decrease imaging among emergency department low back pain presentations: a systematic review

  • C. Lui (a1), S. Desai (a1), L. Krebs (a1), S.W. Kirkland (a1), D. Keto-Lambert (a1) and B.H. Rowe (a1)...

Abstract

Introduction: Low back pain (LBP) is an extremely frequent emergency department (ED) presentation. Although LBP imaging often results in no change to the ED management, does not identify abnormalities, and has documented risks (e.g., radiation exposure), advanced imaging (i.e., computed tomography [CT], magnetic resonance imaging [MRI]) for patients with LBP has become increasingly frequent in the ED. The objective of this review was to identify and examine the effectiveness and safety of interventions aimed at reducing imaging in the ED for LBP patients. Methods: Six bibliographic databases and grey literature were searched. Comparative studies assessing interventions aimed at reducing ED imaging for adult patients with LBP were eligible for inclusion. Two reviewers independently screened study eligibility, completed data extraction, and assessed the quality of included studies. Due to a limited number of studies and significant heterogeneity, a descriptive analysis was performed. Results: The search yielded 510 unique citations of which three before-after studies were included. Quality assessment identified potential biases relating to comparability between the pre- and post-intervention groups, reliable assessment of outcomes, and an overall lack of information on the intervention (i.e., time point, description, intervention data collection). The interventions to reduce lumbar spine imaging varied considerably. Study interventions included: 1) clinical decision support (i.e., a specialized X-ray requisition form), which reported a 47.4% relative reduction of lumbar spine radiography referrals; 2) clinical decision guidelines, which reduced referrals by 43.8%; and 3) multidisciplinary protocols, which reported a reduction in the MRI referral rate by 26.1%. Despite reductions in simple imaging, CT use increased in two of the three studies. Conclusion: LBP has been identified as a key area of imaging overuse (e.g., Choosing Wisely recommendation). Yet, evidence of interventions’ effectiveness in reducing imaging for ED patients with LBP is sparse. While there is some evidence to suggest that interventions can reduce the use of simple imaging in LBP in the ED, unintended consequences have been reported and additional studies employing higher quality methods are strongly recommended.

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