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Head and Neck Ultrasound Utilization Rates: 2012-2015
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  • Courtney Shires,
  • Aaron Smith,
  • Theodore Klug,
  • Mary Sebelik
Courtney Shires
West Cancer Center

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Aaron Smith
The University of Tennessee Health Science Center
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Theodore Klug
West Cancer Center
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Mary Sebelik
Emory University Woodruff Health Sciences Center
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Objectives: Utilization of clinician-performed head and neck ultrasound among diagnostic radiologists, otolaryngologists, endocrinologists, and general surgeons, using Medicare Provider Utilization and Payment Data available through CMS.gov. Estimation of the potential impact clinician-performed ultrasounds may have on the traditional model of radiology-based ultrasound exams. Design: From 2012-2015, the files were filtered to include 4 provider types: Diagnostic Radiology (DR), Endocrinology (ENDO), General Surgery (GS), and Otolaryngology (OTO). Billable procedures are listed by HCPCS code and a filter was applied to include the following codes: 76536 Ultrasound, soft tissues of the head and neck, diagnostic; 76942 Ultrasonic guidance for needle placement; 10022 Fine needle aspiration, with imaging guidance. Setting: The Medicare Provider Utilization and Payment Data: Physician and Other Supplier Public Use File, available through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Participants: Diagnostic Radiology (DR), Endocrinology (ENDO), General Surgery (GS), and Otolaryngology (OTO). Main outcome measures: Charges submitted, facility vs. non-facility, reimbursements, and superusers. Results and Conclusions: In 2015, OTOs submitted charges for 2.1% of all head and neck diagnostic ultrasounds (76536) performed on Medicare beneficiaries. DRs submitted more 76536 charges from 2012-2015, ENDOs to a lesser degree, and OTO and GS remained flat in charges. 10.5% of OTOs in the PUF submitted more than 100 charges apiece during 2015, as compared to a smaller proportion of radiologists (4.5%) who did so. Among surgeons in 2015, OTOs performed more diagnostic HNUS than GSs, and the percentage of OTOs performing US compared to their specialty peers was 3.5 times higher than GSs.