Massachusetts General Hospital researchers led by Dr. Juan Carlos Battle said they also found the use of the advanced imaging techniques might help decrease the high costs associated with hospitalization if used early.
The research involved 10,005 hospital admissions that included at least one advanced imaging study during the period from one day prior to admission through discharge.
"Results showed that in comparison the length of stay was significantly shorter for those imaged on the day before or day of admission vs. day one or two for all admissions of at least three days," Batlle said. Early imaging with CT and MRI, particularly on the day before or the day of admission is associated with significantly shorter length of stay of inpatients compared with patients who had advanced imaging performed later.
"Although the study design does not establish cause and effect, our results suggest that early imaging could expedite inpatient care and discharge in certain types of patients, but they do not imply that automatic ordering of imaging should replace clinical judgment," he said.
The study appears in the Journal of the American College of Radiology.