MRI items for GPs welcomed with caution

While welcomed as a positive step forward, the AMA also believes that the restriction of indications smacks of “saving money and ignorance of the reality of the GP consulting room”.

Previously only specialist or consultant physicians could order these procedures for patients, although GP-ordered MRI scans for children under 16 attracted MBS rebates from last year.

Now four new item numbers for patients aged 16 years or older cover an MRI of the brain for certain indications, such as unexplained headaches; a scan of the cervical spine for radiculopathy and trauma; and a scan of the knee for specific clinical indications.

But, according to AMA Council of General Practice chair Dr Brian Morton, the items should also have covered the lower back and shoulder.

Dr Morton said that MBS items for MRI scans of the lower back have been delayed until the outcome of a review of diagnostic imaging of the lower back, and that the government