by Whitney Palmer

For nearly 15 years, the number of radiologists performing these procedures has continued to climb while other specialties are seeing a decrease.

Radiologists are performing more and more lumbar punctures, according to recently published research.

This is an upward trend that has been growing for the past 14 years, said a group of researchers from the Harvey L. Neiman Health Policy Institute. In an article published in the American Journal of Neuroradiology, the team revealed that from 2004 to 2017, the percentage of radiologist-performed procedures increased from 37 percent to 54 percent, largely because fluoroscopic guidance from a radiologist is frequently needed for more complex cases.

The team, led by Derek Johnson, M.D., assistant professor of radiology and neurology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, reached this determination after evaluating a 5-percent sample of Medicare beneficiaries – approximately 2.5 million individuals – during the same time frame.

Based on the team’s evaluation, radiologists stood out from the pack for lumbar puncture performance among physicians. Most other specialists either performed fewer procedures, such as neurologists who dropped from 23.5 percent to 10 percent, or stayed roughly the same. The largest absolute increase was seen among non-physician providers – from 4.2 percent in 2004 to 7.5 percent in 2017.

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