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This paper does not repeat material in the original report (Policy Implications of the Computed Tomography (CT) Scanner). For the most part, it is assumed that the reader was familiar with the 1978 report. Thus, basic descriptions of the scanner and of certain Federal laws and policies are found in the earlier report.
This paper considers the CT scanner in the context of the entire field of what has come to be called "diagnostic imaging" (making pictures of the inside of the human body for the purposes of diagnosis). A number of new applications of existing technologies as well as several new technologies have developed. The field of diagnostic imaging is developing rapidly, and presents a significant challenge to policy makers. Can the relative advantages of the different technologies be demonstrated? Can Federal policies rationalize the use of the many technologies? Or will the new technologies merely be added on to the existing methods, driving up costs and contributing only a small marginal benefit to people's health?
Since this is a background paper, no policy options are presented. The purpose of this paper is to summarize the most important development concerning CT scanners that have occurred over the past 2-1/2 years.