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  • Guideline Summary
  • NGC:010843
  • 2015

ACR Appropriateness Criteria® routine chest radiography.

McComb BL, Chung JH, Crabtree TD, Heitkamp DE, Iannettoni MD, Jokerst C, Saleh AG, Shah RD, Steiner RM, Mohammed TL, Ravenel JG, Expert Panel on Thoracic Imaging. ACR Appropriateness Criteria® routine chest radiography. Reston (VA): American College of Radiology (ACR); 2015. 8 p. [47 references]

View the original guideline documentation External Web Site Policy

This is the current release of the guideline.

This guideline updates a previous version: Mohammed TL, Kirsch J, Amorosa JK, Brown K, Chung JH, Dyer DS, Ginsburg ME, Heitkamp DE, Kanne JP, Kazerooni EA, Ketai LH, Ravenel JG, Saleh AG, Shah RD, Expert Panel on Thoracic Imaging. ACR Appropriateness Criteria® routine admission and preoperative chest radiography. [online publication]. Reston (VA): American College of Radiology (ACR); 2011. 6 p. [41 references]

This guideline meets NGC's 2013 (revised) inclusion criteria.

Major Recommendations

ACR Appropriateness Criteria®

Clinical Condition: Routine Chest Radiography

Variant 1: No clinical concern on basis of history or physical examination.

Radiologic Procedure Rating Comments RRL*
X-ray chest routine preoperative 3   radioactive
X-ray chest routine admission 3   radioactive
X-ray chest routine outpatient 2   radioactive
Rating Scale: 1,2,3 Usually not appropriate; 4,5,6 May be appropriate; 7,8,9 Usually appropriate *Relative Radiation Level

Variant 2: Suspicion of acute or potentially unstable chronic cardiopulmonary disease by history or physical examination.

Radiologic Procedure Rating Comments RRL*
X-ray chest routine admission 9   radioactive
X-ray chest routine preoperative 8   radioactive
X-ray chest routine outpatient 8   radioactive
Rating Scale: 1,2,3 Usually not appropriate; 4,5,6 May be appropriate; 7,8,9 Usually appropriate *Relative Radiation Level

Variant 3: Increased risk, patient- or procedure-related (i.e., advanced age [particularly >70 years], unreliable history and physical examination, high-risk surgery).

Radiologic Procedure Rating Comments RRL*
X-ray chest routine preoperative 7   radioactive
X-ray chest routine admission 7   radioactive
X-ray chest routine outpatient 6   radioactive
Rating Scale: 1,2,3 Usually not appropriate; 4,5,6 May be appropriate; 7,8,9 Usually appropriate *Relative Radiation Level

Summary of Literature Review

Introduction/Background

The concept of routine testing became engrained in medical practice in the 20th century with the development of technologies that could detect otherwise unsuspected abnormalities associated with increased morbidity or mortality and the potential need to alter clinical management. Chest radiography evolved into routine practice out of early screening programs devised to identify asymptomatic tuberculosis carriers. Routine chest radiography came into question by the 1970s, although it persisted as part of a battery of routine testing frequently performed into the 1980s. Numerous studies since the 1980s have challenged the use of various routine tests, including the chest radiograph. This document reviews the routine chest radiograph performed on adult patients in association with elective preoperative and preintervention, hospital admission, and asymptomatic outpatient evaluation.

Routine Preoperative and Preprocedural Chest Radiographs

Data on the value of the preoperative chest radiograph have been largely derived from case series and cohort studies that date before 2000. There have been few systematic reviews and meta-analyses throughout the years, and little information has been derived from randomized controlled trials. Routine radiographs are not consistently distinguished from indicated ones in most reports, and the performance of single versus 2-view examinations is infrequently specified. Several studies emphasize abnormality rates, although definitions used to determine abnormal results vary. A number of studies address the influence of abnormal results on perioperative management, although in some cases the nature of the impact is imprecisely described or abnormalities considered positive would be expected to have had little to no significant influence on clinical management (e.g., rib fractures, scarring and atelectasis, and slightly increased cardiothoracic ratio). Few reports focus on postoperative pulmonary complication as a primary outcome measure, although several discuss patient-related and procedure-related risk factors for postoperative complications. Several reports also highlight the role of the clinical history and physical examination in patient selection for preoperative chest radiography.

Review of available literature over the past 35 years reveals a lack of supportive evidence for the broad utilization of the routine preoperative chest radiograph. In 1978, the routine preoperative radiograph was reported to be of little therapeutic value as a baseline for future comparison. The Royal College of Radiologists published the first major review of the preoperative chest radiograph in 1979. The chest radiograph did not influence either the decision to operate or the choice of anesthetic in 10,619 patients undergoing elective noncardiopulmonary surgery. The Royal College subsequently issued a statement that the practice was not justified. Several reports have since highlighted the frequent demonstration of abnormalities on preoperative chest radiographs but a low impact of the abnormalities on clinical management, especially in patients without symptoms or a pertinent clinical history. Multiple studies have also reported an ability to predict most clinically significant radiographic abnormalities from a reliable history and physical examination. In a meta-analysis on 21 studies from 1966 to 1992, only 1.3% of chest radiographic abnormalities would not have been identified from the history and physical examination. Some increased value in the chest radiograph was suggested in certain situations, such as an unreliable clinical evaluation and increased prevalence of pulmonary disease in a background population. A number of reports have also emphasized the greater likelihood of an abnormal chest radiograph in patients of advanced age and a greater risk of major postoperative pulmonary complications in that population. One research group reported that abnormal chest radiographs did not predict postoperative complications in elderly patients but that patients of age >70 years had a greater frequency of major postoperative complications even when only high-risk patients were considered. They suggested that age should influence the decision to perform a routine preoperative chest radiograph and recommended chest radiographs for elderly patients regardless of history, particularly if >70 years of age. A multicenter study reported that 23% of preoperative posteroanterior (PA) radiographs demonstrated abnormalities, which varied with age. In each of 4 risk groups, 56% of the abnormalities were chronic, with more than half in patients of age >65 years. The preoperative radiograph contributed to the diagnosis of postoperative complications in about 5% of cases.

In 1999, a group of authors published a large prospective multicenter study of 6111 patients that investigated the impact on anesthetic management of routine preoperative chest radiographs performed on elective surgery patients based on an established protocol. Radiographs were abnormal in 18.3% of patients and influenced anesthesia in 5.1% of patients. In multivariate analysis, male gender, age >60 years, American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) class ≥3, respiratory illness, and the presence of 2 or more coexisting diseases were significantly related to the probability of a useful preoperative radiograph. In 2005, another research group published a systematic review of 14 manuscripts from 1966–2004 while taking into account the quality of evidence on screening preoperative chest radiographs. The diagnostic yield of the chest radiograph increased with age (3% to 16% in age <50 years; 47% to 61% in age >70 years) and risk factors (e.g., cardiopulmonary disease and severe systemic illness), but most detected abnormalities were anticipated and chronic (e.g., cardiomegaly and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD]). Postoperative pulmonary complications were similar in patients with (12.8%) and without (16%) preoperative radiographs. Chest radiographs impacted the management of 10% of patients, although an association could not be established between preoperative screening and a decrease in morbidity and mortality. Fair evidence supported the elimination of chest radiographs in asymptomatic patients of age <70 years, although there was insufficient evidence for or against the performance of routine chest radiographs in patients >70 years old. A 2006 systematic review of literature from 1980 to 2005 addressed preoperative pulmonary risk stratification before noncardiothoracic surgery. Good evidence was found for advanced age, ASA class 2 or higher, functional dependence, COPD, and congestive heart failure (CHF) as patient-related risk factors for postoperative pulmonary complications. Procedure-related risk increased with certain surgeries, such as aortic aneurysm repair; neurosurgery; and nonresective thoracic, abdominal, vascular, and head and neck surgeries, along with emergency and prolonged surgeries. The incremental value of the chest radiograph in estimating postoperative pulmonary complications was small, but a limited role was suggested for preoperative radiography in patients with known cardiopulmonary disease and patients of age >50 years scheduled for abdominal aortic aneurysm, thoracic, or upper abdominal surgery.

In the past several years, the preoperative chest radiograph has also been addressed in reports that have examined indications for multiple different preoperative tests. In 1997, a systematic review of preoperative testing in apparently healthy patients was published. Eight studies allowed outcomes of routine preoperative chest radiographs to be distinguished from those of indicated chest radiographs. Findings on routine radiographs were reported as abnormal in 2.5% to 37% of cases, resulting in a change in clinical management in only 0% to 2.1%. Both yield of abnormalities and impact on patient management rose with age and poorer anesthesiology status. A review of routine preoperative laboratory testing in 2003 reported that a normal preoperative chest radiograph did not correlate with a substantial decrease in likelihood of a complication in a subset of studies from 1980 to 2000. Three percent of routine chest radiographs were abnormal and led to a modification of perioperative management. Another study investigated the correlation of abnormal preoperative testing and medical history results with perioperative complications in 1363 elective surgery patients. Four hundred ten patients received chest radiographs according to individual physician practice, 32 of which (7.8%) were abnormal. Age, invasiveness of surgery, and medical history were determined to be better predictors of perioperative complications than were test results, and selective preoperative testing was recommended in elective surgery patients. Conclusions on obesity as a risk factor for postoperative complications have varied in the literature, as have recommendations regarding preoperative chest radiography. Another group of authors evaluated preoperative testing on severely obese patients (mean body mass index [BMI], 50 kg/m2) undergoing gastric bypass surgery. Only 4% of preoperative chest radiographs demonstrated abnormalities (mild cardiomegaly, granuloma, and stable lung lesion), none of which required preoperative intervention. Chest radiographs were not recommended as a routine for these patients. In contrast, another group has advocated that chest radiographs be part of preoperative testing on all severely obese patients (BMI ≥40 kg/m2).

Few studies have addressed the use of routine chest radiography before interventional and vascular procedures. In one study, interventional radiologists were surveyed on the uses of several routine tests, including chest radiographs, and reported overuse of preprocedural testing. Selective testing was recommended based on clinical suspicion. Another group published an evaluation of 75 patients who received routine PA and lateral chest radiographs both before and after extracorporeal electromagnetically generated shock-wave lithotripsy and concluded that chest radiography was not warranted. Another study reported that routine chest radiography was not necessary before peripheral or coronary angiography in the absence of specific clinical indications. In their 240 patients, no angiogram was postponed or canceled because of abnormalities detected on routine chest radiographs. Cardiac enlargement and heart failure constituted the majority of abnormalities. Another group of researchers assessed the value of routine chest radiographs obtained in 113 patients under consideration for reperfusion therapy during emergent evaluation of stroke symptoms. Seventy percent of radiographs were normal and 26% demonstrated incidental findings. Potentially relevant findings were found on 3.8% of routine radiographs, but none affected clinical management. Chest radiographs without specific indication were not recommended as part of emergent stroke evaluation before intervention.

Routine Hospital Admission Chest Radiographs

Literature on the use of chest radiographs to evaluate for occult abnormalities in asymptomatic hospital admissions is limited and has primarily addressed specific populations. In 1985, one group of authors found little or no clinical indication for routine chest radiography in 35% to 50% of 1000 geriatric admissions. Among indicated studies, 5.5% demonstrated an abnormality, which was significant in <1% of cases. Among unindicated studies, 17% were in patients with known chronic cardiac or pulmonary disease, and radiographic findings did not impact management. Another group studied 491 Veterans Administration internal medicine hospital admissions, 294 of whom received routine admission anterior-posterior chest radiographs. Of 36% with abnormalities, 29% were chronic and stable and 7% were new. Chest radiographs prompted treatment modification in only 4% of cases, and it was anticipated that necessary treatment would likely have been omitted in only 1 patient (0.3%) had the chest radiograph not been obtained. The influence of the radiograph was small even when the prevalence of cardiopulmonary disease was high. Another study prospectively studied the impact of routine PA and lateral chest radiographs on 188 medical admissions from an emergency department. Abnormalities were more common in subpopulations at high risk for treatment-altering abnormalities (age ≥65 years, smoking history, altered mental status, and human immunodeficiency virus [HIV] positivity) than in low-risk groups (82% versus 61%). Treatment was altered by unsuspected abnormalities in 3% of patients, each of whom was a member of a high risk subpopulation.

In 2002, one study found routine chest radiographs to be normal in 81.5% of 200 patients admitted to an acute psychiatric ward. Relevant abnormalities present in 5% of cases were clinically known and did not alter management. Possible benefits of chest radiography were suggested in the elderly and in cases of cognitive alteration or alcohol or drug abuse, and selective ordering was recommended based on the clinical history and physical examination. In 2010, another group of authors published on 675 consecutive medicine patients who received mandated admission chest radiographs. A significant yield was found only in cases where the physical examination was abnormal or there was a clear clinical indication for ordering the radiograph. Excluding these patients, the routine radiograph contributed to management in only 3.6% of cases. Another group of investigators evaluated chest radiographs obtained on 229 hospital medical admissions, 129 of which were routine. Most abnormalities found in 43.4% of cases were chronic, stable, and previously known. Management was altered in only 3.87% of cases and included the diagnoses of CHF and pneumonia (age >65 years) with altered mental status. There was a small impact on patient care from routine admission chest radiographs, including if obtained on patients with preexisting but stable cardiopulmonary disease. Admission chest radiographs were recommended only on patients with clinical findings of cardiopulmonary disease or elderly patients unable to provide an accurate history or undergo a reliable physical examination.

Routine Chest Radiographs in Asymptomatic Outpatients

Outpatient chest radiographs were once frequently performed as part of a periodic health examination, pre-employment physical, or multiphase screening program to evaluate for occult pathology, such as tuberculosis and obstructive pulmonary disease. Chest radiographs are no longer advocated in such cases without medical indication, nor are they recommended to screen for lung cancer. The performance of chest radiographs on asymptomatic primary care patients was addressed in a 2004 paper, in which 1282 (34%) of 3812 chest radiographs had been ordered as routine or screening studies. The diagnostic yield of the chest radiograph was low. Of 15 abnormalities considered major (12 nodules, a lung mass, a lobar atelectasis, and a mediastinal adenopathy), all were in patients aged 40 years or older, 14 were false positives, and none required treatment. Another group reported on the effect on mortality of lung cancer screening performed by chest radiography on participants in the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial between 1993 and 2001. A subset analysis was included on PLCO participants who met eligibility for the National Lung Screening Trial. Of 154,901 participants aged 55 to 74 years, 77,445 received annual screening for 4 years and 77,456 received usual care. Annual screening by chest radiography did not reduce lung cancer mortality.

A chest radiograph is sometimes performed as part of the evaluation of an asymptomatic patient with uncomplicated hypertension. One study reported most radiographic abnormalities in hypertensive patients to be minor (prior granulomatous disease, tortuous aorta, or fibrosis) and without management value. The chest radiograph has been advocated to assess for certain abnormalities, such as aortic coarctation, cardiogenic edema, aortic valvular calcification, and smoking-related lung disease, that may not be conspicuous on examination but may impact hypertensive workup and treatment. Varying degrees of success have been reported in the use of the chest radiograph to evaluate for cardiomegaly and to gauge left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH), which is a marker of poor prognosis. In 1982, another study reported cardiomegaly in 17% of patients with moderate to severe hypertension, compared to 7% of patients with mild hypertension. In 2004, a group of authors published a study of 72 hypertensive and 77 age- and sex-matched normotensive patients. Cardiothoracic ratio and aortic knob enlargement were both reported as useful predictors of target organ damage. Cardiothoracic ratio was an independent predictor of LVH. It was suggested that in conjunction with an electrocardiogram, the chest radiograph may provide important information on the presence of LVH. In 2004, another group reported a higher prevalence of aortic arch calcification on chest radiographs in hypertensive patients than in the general population and age and gender (female) dependence. Increased left ventricular mass on echocardiography and aortic calcification on chest radiography were concurrent occurrences influenced by hypertension and age.

Summary of Recommendations

  • Available evidence does not support the broad performance of routine chest radiography. Despite the frequent demonstration of abnormalities, routine chest radiographs uncommonly add clinically significant information that would not have been predicted by a reliable history and physical examination.
  • In the case of the preoperative chest radiograph, evidence suggests that increased management value may accompany advanced patient age (especially >70 years) and certain other patient- and procedure-related risk factors (e.g., history of cardiopulmonary disease, unreliable history and physical examination, high-risk surgery); however, the ability of a preoperative chest radiograph to forecast postoperative pulmonary complications is low.
  • The decision to perform a chest radiograph in the preoperative, preintervention, hospital admission, and asymptomatic outpatient settings should principally derive from a need to investigate a clinical suspicion for acute or unstable chronic cardiopulmonary disease that could influence patient care. Selective ordering is recommended, including in patients of advanced age or otherwise at increased risk.
  • Routine chest radiography is not definitively indicated in uncomplicated hypertension. There may be value in patients with moderate to severe hypertension and potential aortic coarctation or cardiogenic edema, in addition to patients with overt cardiopulmonary signs or symptoms.
  • The anticipated value from ordering a chest radiograph should be weighed against adverse effects, including radiation exposure, procedural delay, anxiety, and potential morbidity from the investigation of incidental findings.

Relative Radiation Level Designations

Relative Radiation Level* Adult Effective Dose Estimate Range Pediatric Effective Dose Estimate Range
O 0 mSv 0 mSv
radioactive <0.1 mSv <0.03 mSv
radioactive radioactive 0.1-1 mSv 0.03-0.3 mSv
radioactive radioactive radioactive 1-10 mSv 0.3-3 mSv
radioactive radioactive radioactive radioactive 10-30 mSv 3-10 mSv
radioactive radioactive radioactive radioactive radioactive 30-100 mSv 10-30 mSv
*RRL assignments for some of the examinations cannot be made, because the actual patient doses in these procedures vary as a function of a number of factors (e.g., region of the body exposed to ionizing radiation, the imaging guidance that is used). The RRLs for these examinations are designated as "Varies."

Clinical Algorithm(s)

Algorithms were not developed from criteria guidelines.

Disease/Condition(s)

Cardiopulmonary diseases or abnormalities

Guideline Category

Diagnosis

Evaluation

Risk Assessment

Screening

Clinical Specialty

Cardiology

Emergency Medicine

Family Practice

Geriatrics

Internal Medicine

Preventive Medicine

Pulmonary Medicine

Radiology

Surgery

Intended Users

Advanced Practice Nurses

Health Plans

Hospitals

Managed Care Organizations

Physician Assistants

Physicians

Students

Utilization Management

Guideline Objective(s)

To review the routine chest radiographs performed on adult patients in association with elective preoperative and preintervention, hospital admission, and asymptomatic outpatient evaluation

Target Population

  • Patients, including the elderly (age >70 years), undergoing preadmission procedures prior to hospitalization or surgery
  • Asymptomatic outpatients, including the elderly (age >70 years)

Interventions and Practices Considered

X-ray, chest

  • Routine preoperative
  • Routine admission
  • Routine outpatient

Major Outcomes Considered

Utility of routine admission and preoperative chest radiography in differential diagnosis and management

Methods Used to Collect/Select the Evidence

Hand-searches of Published Literature (Primary Sources)

Hand-searches of Published Literature (Secondary Sources)

Searches of Electronic Databases

Description of Methods Used to Collect/Select the Evidence

Literature Search Summary

Of the 22 citations in the original bibliography, 21 were retained in the final document. Articles were removed from the original bibliography if they were more than 10 years old and did not contribute to the evidence or they were no longer cited in the revised narrative text.

A new literature search was conducted in July 2013 and updated in October 2013 and May 2015 to identify additional evidence published since the ACR Appropriateness Criteria® Routine Chest Radiography topic was finalized. Using the search strategies described in the literature search companion (see the "Availability of Companion Documents" field), 132 articles were found. Five articles were added to the bibliography. One hundred twenty-seven articles were not used due to either poor study design, the articles were not relevant or generalizable to the topic, the results were unclear, misinterpreted, or biased, or the articles were already cited in the original bibliography.

The author added 21 citations from bibliographies, Web sites, or books that were not found in the new literature search.

Number of Source Documents

Of the 22 citations in the original bibliography, 21 were retained in the final document. The new literature search conducted in July 2013 and updated in October 2013 and May 2015 identified 5 articles that were added to the bibliography. The author added 21 citations from bibliographies, Web sites, or books that were not found in the new literature search.

Methods Used to Assess the Quality and Strength of the Evidence

Weighting According to a Rating Scheme (Scheme Given)

Rating Scheme for the Strength of the Evidence

Definitions of Study Quality Categories

Category 1 - The study is well-designed and accounts for common biases.

Category 2 - The study is moderately well-designed and accounts for most common biases.

Category 3 - The study has important study design limitations.

Category 4 - The study or source is not useful as primary evidence. The article may not be a clinical study, the study design is invalid, or conclusions are based on expert consensus.

The study does not meet the criteria for or is not a hypothesis-based clinical study (e.g., a book chapter or case report or case series description);

Or

The study may synthesize and draw conclusions about several studies such as a literature review article or book chapter but is not primary evidence;

Or

The study is an expert opinion or consensus document.

Category M - Meta-analysis studies are not rated for study quality using the study element method because the method is designed to evaluate individual studies only. An "M" for the study quality will indicate that the study quality has not been evaluated for the meta-analysis study.

Methods Used to Analyze the Evidence

Review of Published Meta-Analyses

Systematic Review with Evidence Tables

Description of the Methods Used to Analyze the Evidence

The topic author assesses the literature then drafts or revises the narrative summarizing the evidence found in the literature. American College of Radiology (ACR) staff drafts an evidence table based on the analysis of the selected literature. These tables rate the study quality for each article included in the narrative.

The expert panel reviews the narrative, evidence table and the supporting literature for each of the topic-variant combinations and assigns an appropriateness rating for each procedure listed in the variant table(s). Each individual panel member assigns a rating based on his/her interpretation of the available evidence.

More information about the evidence table development process can be found in the ACR Appropriateness Criteria® Evidence Table Development document (see the "Availability of Companion Documents" field).

Methods Used to Formulate the Recommendations

Expert Consensus (Delphi)

Description of Methods Used to Formulate the Recommendations

Rating Appropriateness

The American College of Radiology (ACR) Appropriateness Criteria (AC) methodology is based on the RAND/UCLA Appropriateness Method. The appropriateness ratings for each of the procedures or treatments included in the AC topics are determined using a modified Delphi method. An initial survey is conducted to elicit each panelist's expert interpretation of the evidence, based on the available data, regarding the appropriateness of an imaging or therapeutic procedure for a specific clinical scenario. The expert panel members review the evidence presented and assess the risks or harms of doing the procedure balanced with the benefits of performing the procedure. The direct or indirect costs of a procedure are not considered as a risk or harm when determining appropriateness (additional assumptions regarding rating appropriateness can be found in the document Rating Round Information External Web Site Policy). When the evidence for a specific topic and variant is uncertain or incomplete, expert opinion may supplement the available evidence or may be the sole source for assessing the appropriateness.

The appropriateness is represented on an ordinal scale that uses integers from 1 to 9 grouped into three categories: 1, 2, or 3 are in the category "usually not appropriate" where the harms of doing the procedure outweigh the benefits; and 7, 8, or 9 are in the category "usually appropriate" where the benefits of doing a procedure outweigh the harms or risks. The middle category, designated "may be appropriate," is represented by 4, 5, or 6 on the scale. The middle category is when the risks and benefits are equivocal or unclear, the dispersion of the individual ratings from the group median rating is too large (i.e., disagreement), the evidence is contradictory or unclear, or there are special circumstances or subpopulations which could influence the risks or benefits that are embedded in the variant.

The ratings assigned by each panel member are presented in a table displaying the frequency distribution of the ratings without identifying which members provided any particular rating. To determine the panel's recommendation, the rating category that contains the median group rating without disagreement is selected. This may be determined after either the first or second rating round. If there is disagreement after the first rating round, a conference call is scheduled to discuss the evidence and, if needed, clarify the variant or procedure description. If there is still disagreement after the second rating round, the recommendation is "may be appropriate."

This modified Delphi method enables each panelist to articulate his or her individual interpretations of the evidence or expert opinion without excessive influence from fellow panelists in a simple, standardized, and economical process. For additional information on the ratings process see the Rating Round Information External Web Site Policy document.

Additional methodology documents, including a more detailed explanation of the complete topic development process and all ACR AC topics can be found on the ACR Web site External Web Site Policy (see also the "Availability of Companion Documents" field).

Rating Scheme for the Strength of the Recommendations

Not applicable

Cost Analysis

A formal cost analysis was not performed and published cost analyses were not reviewed.

Method of Guideline Validation

Internal Peer Review

Description of Method of Guideline Validation

Criteria developed by the Expert Panels are reviewed by the American College of Radiology (ACR) Committee on Appropriateness Criteria (AC).

Type of Evidence Supporting the Recommendations

The recommendations are based on analysis of the current medical evidence literature and the application of the RAND/UCLA appropriateness method and expert panel consensus.

Summary of Evidence

Of the 47 references cited in the ACR Appropriateness Criteria® Routine Chest Radiography document, 45 are categorized as diagnostic references including 1 well designed study, 2 good quality studies, and 4 quality studies that may have design limitations. Additionally, 1 reference is categorized as a therapeutic reference. There are 39 references that may not be useful as primary evidence. There is 1 reference that is a meta-analysis study.

While there are references that report on studies with design limitations, 3 well designed or good quality studies provide good evidence.

Potential Benefits

Appropriate use of routine admission and preoperative chest radiographs and routine chest radiographs in asymptomatic outpatients

Potential Harms

The anticipated value from ordering a chest radiograph should be weighed against adverse effects, including radiation exposure, procedural delay, anxiety, and potential morbidity from the investigation of incidental findings.

Relative Radiation Level

Potential adverse health effects associated with radiation exposure are an important factor to consider when selecting the appropriate imaging procedure. Because there is a wide range of radiation exposures associated with different diagnostic procedures, a relative radiation level (RRL) indication has been included for each imaging examination. The RRLs are based on effective dose, which is a radiation dose quantity that is used to estimate population total radiation risk associated with an imaging procedure. Patients in the pediatric age group are at inherently higher risk from exposure, both because of organ sensitivity and longer life expectancy (relevant to the long latency that appears to accompany radiation exposure). For these reasons, the RRL dose estimate ranges for pediatric examinations are lower as compared to those specified for adults. Additional information regarding radiation dose assessment for imaging examinations can be found in the American College of Radiology (ACR) Appropriateness Criteria® Radiation Dose Assessment Introduction document (see the "Availability of Companion Documents" field).

Qualifying Statements

  • The American College of Radiology (ACR) Committee on Appropriateness Criteria (AC) and its expert panels have developed criteria for determining appropriate imaging examinations for diagnosis and treatment of specified medical condition(s). These criteria are intended to guide radiologists, radiation oncologists, and referring physicians in making decisions regarding radiologic imaging and treatment. Generally, the complexity and severity of a patient's clinical condition should dictate the selection of appropriate imaging procedures or treatments. Only those examinations generally used for evaluation of the patient's condition are ranked. Other imaging studies necessary to evaluate other co-existent diseases or other medical consequences of this condition are not considered in this document. The availability of equipment or personnel may influence the selection of appropriate imaging procedures or treatments. Imaging techniques classified as investigational by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have not been considered in developing these criteria; however, study of new equipment and applications should be encouraged. The ultimate decision regarding the appropriateness of any specific radiologic examination or treatment must be made by the referring physician and radiologist in light of all the circumstances presented in an individual examination.
  • ACR seeks and encourages collaboration with other organizations on the development of the ACR AC through society representation on expert panels. Participation by representatives from collaborating societies on the expert panel does not necessarily imply individual or society endorsement of the final document.

Description of Implementation Strategy

An implementation strategy was not provided.

IOM Care Need

Staying Healthy

IOM Domain

Effectiveness

Bibliographic Source(s)

McComb BL, Chung JH, Crabtree TD, Heitkamp DE, Iannettoni MD, Jokerst C, Saleh AG, Shah RD, Steiner RM, Mohammed TL, Ravenel JG, Expert Panel on Thoracic Imaging. ACR Appropriateness Criteria® routine chest radiography. Reston (VA): American College of Radiology (ACR); 2015. 8 p. [47 references]

Adaptation

Not applicable: The guideline was not adapted from another source.

Date Released

2015

Guideline Developer(s)

American College of Radiology - Medical Specialty Society

Source(s) of Funding

The American College of Radiology (ACR) provided the funding and the resources for these ACR Appropriateness Criteria®.

Guideline Committee

Committee on Appropriateness Criteria, Expert Panel on Thoracic Imaging

Composition of Group That Authored the Guideline

Panel Members: Barbara L. McComb, MD (Principal Author); Jonathan H. Chung, MD (Panel Vice-chair); Traves D. Crabtree, MD; Darel E. Heitkamp, MD; Mark D. Iannettoni, MD; Clinton Jokerst, MD; Anthony G. Saleh, MD; Rakesh D. Shah, MD; Robert M. Steiner, MD; Tan-Lucien H. Mohammed, MD (Specialty Chair); James G. Ravenel, MD (Panel Chair)

Financial Disclosures/Conflicts of Interest

Not stated

Guideline Status

This is the current release of the guideline.

This guideline updates a previous version: Mohammed TL, Kirsch J, Amorosa JK, Brown K, Chung JH, Dyer DS, Ginsburg ME, Heitkamp DE, Kanne JP, Kazerooni EA, Ketai LH, Ravenel JG, Saleh AG, Shah RD, Expert Panel on Thoracic Imaging. ACR Appropriateness Criteria® routine admission and preoperative chest radiography. [online publication]. Reston (VA): American College of Radiology (ACR); 2011. 6 p. [41 references]

This guideline meets NGC's 2013 (revised) inclusion criteria.

Guideline Availability

Availability of Companion Documents

The following are available:

  • ACR Appropriateness Criteria®. Overview. Reston (VA): American College of Radiology; 2015 Oct. 3 p. Available from the American College of Radiology (ACR) Web site External Web Site Policy.
  • ACR Appropriateness Criteria®. Literature search process. Reston (VA): American College of Radiology; 2015 Feb. 1 p. Available from the ACR Web site External Web Site Policy.
  • ACR Appropriateness Criteria®. Evidence table development. Reston (VA): American College of Radiology; 2015 Nov. 5 p. Available from the ACR Web site External Web Site Policy.
  • ACR Appropriateness Criteria®. Topic development process. Reston (VA): American College of Radiology; 2015 Nov. 2 p. Available from the ACR Web site External Web Site Policy.
  • ACR Appropriateness Criteria®. Rating round information. Reston (VA): American College of Radiology; 2015 Apr. 5 p. Available from the ACR Web site External Web Site Policy.
  • ACR Appropriateness Criteria®. Radiation dose assessment introduction. Reston (VA): American College of Radiology; 2015 Sep. 3 p. Available from the ACR Web site External Web Site Policy.
  • ACR Appropriateness Criteria® routine chest radiography. Evidence table. Reston (VA): American College of Radiology; 2015. 16 p. Available from the ACR Web site External Web Site Policy.
  • ACR Appropriateness Criteria® routine chest radiography. Literature search. Reston (VA): American College of Radiology; 2015. 2 p. Available from the ACR Web site External Web Site Policy.

Patient Resources

None available

NGC Status

This NGC summary was completed by ECRI on November 12, 2004. The information was verified by the guideline developer on December 21, 2004. This summary was updated by ECRI on August 17, 2006. This summary was updated by ECRI Institute on June 1, 2010. This summary was updated by ECRI Institute on February 29, 2012. This summary was updated by ECRI Institute on January 29, 2016.

Copyright Statement

Instructions for downloading, use, and reproduction of the American College of Radiology (ACR) Appropriateness Criteria® may be found on the ACR Web site External Web Site Policy.

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All guidelines summarized by NGC and hosted on our site are produced under the auspices of medical specialty societies, relevant professional associations, public or private organizations, other government agencies, health care organizations or plans, and similar entities.

Guidelines represented on the NGC Web site are submitted by guideline developers, and are screened solely to determine that they meet the NGC Inclusion Criteria.

NGC, AHRQ, and its contractor ECRI Institute make no warranties concerning the content or clinical efficacy or effectiveness of the clinical practice guidelines and related materials represented on this site. Moreover, the views and opinions of developers or authors of guidelines represented on this site do not necessarily state or reflect those of NGC, AHRQ, or its contractor ECRI Institute, and inclusion or hosting of guidelines in NGC may not be used for advertising or commercial endorsement purposes.

Readers with questions regarding guideline content are directed to contact the guideline developer.