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Computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging in Brazil: an epidemiological study on the distribution of equipment and frequency of examinations, with comparisons between the public and private sectors

Abstract

Objective:

To compare information on highly complex radiological procedures—computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)—between the public and private health care systems, across the five regions of Brazil, in terms of the numbers of radiological devices and examinations performed, between 2015 and 2021.

Materials and Methods:

This was a descriptive time series analysis of secondary data in the public domain, available from the Information Technology Department of the Brazilian Unified Health Care System, an entity of the Brazilian National Ministry of Health (NMH) that is responsible for collecting and storing health-related information in Brazil. The analysis included the numbers of CT and MRI scanners; the volumes and types of examinations; the type of institution (public or private); the regions of the country; and the years (2015 to 2021).

Results:

Progressive increases in the numbers of CT and MRI devices, as well as in the volumes of examinations, were observed over the years in all regions of the country. The private sector showed higher rates of equipment acquisition and of growth in the number of examinations. However, the public health care system did not reach the equipment targets set by the NMH, whereas the private health care system surpassed those targets. A greater number of examinations were performed in the private sector than in the public sector.

Conclusion:

During the period evaluated, the public health care system did not meet the equipment or examination targets recommended by the NMH, in any of the regions of the country, unlike the private health care system, which exceeded both in all of the regions.

Keywords:
Tomography, X-ray computed; Magnetic resonance imaging; Health information systems; Public sector; Private sector

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