Potential Financial Impact of Incidental Cardiac Pathology Detected During Lung Cancer Screening

Carsten Schroeder, Peter Drevets, Jane M. Chung, Melissa Shafer, Richard Lee, Adam E. Berman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Lung cancer screening (LCS) is broadly accepted. Screening also identifies incidental cardiac findings (S findings) that need follow-up. We report the magnitude of the potential downstream revenue generated by appropriate S finding management after 4 years of our free LCS program. Materials and Methods: A retrospective database and chart review of a single-center free LCS program in the underserved southeast were performed. All patients who were enrolled in the screening required a primary care physician (PCP) as part of the decision-making model. Referrals to cardiac specialists for S findings found on LCS were recorded. Cost analysis was performed to track potential downstream revenue generated for the institution based upon Medicare allowable or Diagnosis-related group calculations. Results: One thousand one hundred thirty-two scans were reviewed with 262 (23%) yielding positive S findings for 1 or more organ systems. 181/262 (69%) patients had cardiac findings, only 64/181 (35%) of these patients were referred to cardiology specialists by the PCP. The total Medicare billable amount for all cardiac referrals/interventions was $284 379, representing 35% of the potential billable amount of $804 260. Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) was the highest billable amount at $18 568. Eight percent of the patients undergoing appropriate cardiac evaluation required a PCI. If not for the screening and cardiac specialist referral, this patient group may not have received appropriate cardiovascular diagnosis and treatment. Discussion: Lung cancer screening also identifies patients with significant cardiac disease, many of whom may not be appropriately referred. Identification and treatment of incidentally noted cardiovascular findings may both improve patient care and justify supporting free LCS programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)557-560
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Surgeon
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • early percutaneous coronary intervention
  • health economics
  • incidental coronary calcification
  • lung cancer screening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


Dive into the research topics of 'Potential Financial Impact of Incidental Cardiac Pathology Detected During Lung Cancer Screening'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this