American Chiropractic Association

View all recommendations from this society

August 15, 2017

Do not perform repeat imaging to monitor patients’ progress.

With few exceptions (e.g., the long-term management of idiopathic scoliosis) radiographic findings should not be used as outcome measures for low-back pain. There is currently no data available to support a relationship between changes in alignment or other structural characteristics and patient improvement. This practice increases costs, exposes patients unnecessarily to ionizing radiation and may distract from more meaningful outcomes. Furthermore, there is no known correlation between performing routine or repeat imaging studies to monitor a patient’s condition and improved clinical outcomes or meaningful changes in patient management. Repeat imaging is appropriate only if strong clinical indications exist, such as a major change in diagnosis, documented worsening of symptoms or significant progression of disease. Failure to respond to treatment is not an indication for repeat imaging.


These items are provided solely for informational purposes and are not intended as a substitute for consultation with a medical professional. Patients with any specific questions about the items on this list or their individual situation should consult their physician.

How The List Was Created

The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) utilized its Committee on Quality Assurance and Accountability (CQAA) to serve as an expert task force of doctors of chiropractic (DCs) to identify areas/items common to the practice of chiropractic for which recommendations were supported by clinical research and would result in high-value, cost-effective services and improved patient outcomes. A literature search was conducted and the task force collaboratively identified a draft list of six recommendations based upon established Choosing Wisely® criteria. The list was submitted to the ACA Board of Governors for initial review. After further refinement, the final list of five strategies was selected, submitted to and approved by the ACA Board of Governors.

Choosing Wisely® recommendations 1 and 2 are performance measures approved by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for the 2017 Spine IQ Qualified Clinical Data Registry for Conservative Spine Care.

ACA’s disclosure and conflict of interest policy can be found at www.acatoday.org.

Sources

Brinjikji W, Luetmer PH, Comstock B, Bresnahan BW, Chen LE, Deyo RA, Halabi S, Turner JA, Avins AL, James K, Wald JT, Kallmes DF, Jarvik JG. Systematic literature review of imaging features of spinal degeneration in asymptomatic populations. AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2015 Apr;36(4):811-6.

Matsumoto M, Okada E, Toyama Y, Fujiwara H, Momoshima S, Takahata T. Tandem age-related lumbar and cervical intervertebral disc changes in asymptomatic subjects. Eur Spine J. 2013 Apr;22(4):708-13.

Okada E, Matsumoto M, Fujiwara H, Toyama Y. Disc degeneration of cervical spine on MRI in patients with lumbar disc herniation: comparison study with asymptomatic volunteers. Eur Spine J. 2011 Apr;20(4):585-91.

Chou R, Fu R, Carrino JA, Deyo RA. Imaging strategies for low-back pain: systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet. 2009 Feb 7;373(9662):463-72.

Kendrick D, Fielding K, Bentley E, Kerslake R, Miller P, Pringle M. Radiography of the lumbar spine in primary care patients with low back pain: randomised controlled trial. BMJ 2001 Feb 17; 322(7283): 400-5.

Bussières AE, Taylor JA, Peterson C. Diagnostic imaging practice guidelines for musculoskeletal complaints in adults-an evidence-based approach-part 3: spinal disorders. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2008 Jan;31(1):33-88.

National Guideline Clearinghouse (NGC). Guideline summary: ACR Appropriateness Criteria® low back pain. In: National Guideline Clearinghouse (NGC) [Internet]. Rockville (MD): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ); 2001 Jul 31 [updated 2016 Jan 22; cited 2017 May 4]. Available from: https://www.guideline.gov/summaries/summary/49915