MITA Says New Analysis Confirms CT Colonography is a Cost-Effective Colorectal Cancer Screening Option for the Medicare Population


Washington, D.C. – The Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA) today said a new analysis published in Abdominal Imaging confirms that CT colonography is a cost-effective colorectal cancer screening option for the Medicare population.

“The findings confirm that CT colonography hits upon the ‘triple aim’ that Medicare policies strive to achieve—it improves the patient experience as no anesthesia is required, allowing for immediate resumption of daily activities; as an effective screening tool for colon cancer, it improves population health; and it reduces the cost per capita of health care,” said Patrick Hope, executive director of MITA. “We hope this data will encourage the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to cover this service as it will grant more American seniors access to a cost-effective tool to detect colon cancer early, when it is more treatable.”

The study, conducted by researchers from Milliman, Inc. and University of Wisconsin School for Medicine & Public Health, used Medicare claims data, fee schedules, established protocols and other sources to estimate the pre-screen costs of CT colonography and optical colonoscopy, including the costs of referring a subset of CT colonography patients to have the more traditional colonoscopy exam. Researchers then modeled and compared the Medicare costs of patients who complied with CT colonography and optical colonoscopy screening recommendations and tested alternative scenarios, finding that CT colonography is 29 percent less expensive than traditional colonoscopy for the Medicare population.

Colon cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer related deaths in the United States, despite having a 90 percent cure rate when detected early. CT colonography uses low-dose X-rays to produce three-dimensional, moving images of the colon. Compared to the traditional optical exam, CT colonography is less invasive and does not require sedation.

Several prior national studies have demonstrated the value of CT colonography as an effective tool to detect colorectal cancer in Medicare-eligible beneficiaries. According to a 2012 American College of Radiology Imaging Network (ACRIN) paper published in Radiology, CT colonography is comparable to optical colonography for Americans ages 65 years and older. These findings are consistent with data from the 2008 ACRIN trial, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, showing the test’s accuracy for the broader 50 years of age and older population. Additionally, research led by Dr. Brooks Cash of National Naval Medical Center/Walter Reed Army Medical Center, published in the July 2012 issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology, confirmed CT colonography is an effective tool for detecting colorectal cancer for Medicare-eligible beneficiaries.


The Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA), a division of NEMA, is the collective voice of medical imaging equipment, radiation therapy and radiopharmaceutical manufacturers, innovators and product developers. It represents companies whose sales comprise more than 90 percent of the global market for medical imaging technology. For more information, visit Follow MITA on Twitter @MITAToday.