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Chiropractic Research Review

DCs among the Best at Ordering MRIs

Nearly 80% of Americans will experience back pain at some point in their lives. This study reviewed 702 lumbar MRIs taken over a three-year period, to determine which specialty ordering these scans was most successful and accurate in coming up with "positive findings" that would warrant their use.



Doctors of chiropractic fared better than all health care providers except for oncologists and general surgeons, who together accounted for less than two percent of the total MRIs reviewed. Chiropractors accuracy rates were 2.42% higher than medical orthopedists and 10.06% higher than general medical practitioners, who, ironically, DCs must sometimes rely on for authorization of MRIs. (Chiropractors accounted for 22.6% of the MRIs, orthopedists 28.4%, and general practitioners 25.9%).

These findings offer evidence to managed care organizations and insurance companies that some chiropractors have an accurate working knowledge of when to use this test. However, the author of this study warns readers not to generalize these results to all chiropractors, as different subspecialties of chiropractors were not observed independently.

image - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark


Kilmer SE. Chiropractic utilization of lumbar magnetic resonance imaging: How accurate are we compared with other specialties? Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, March/April 1998;21(3), pp173-76.

Chiropractic Research Review

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