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According to the guideline, patients who suffer from acute pain in the back for the first time with acute pain in the back should be examined at the earliest after six weeks by means of image-diagnostic procedures. However, many doctors do not always adhere to this requirement. Radiological diagnostics were performed too early in every third patient.
Many patients recover from acute back pain on their own. A radiological diagnosis is therefore not necessary at first. Unless there is a suspicion of vertebral fractures or bone metastases or there are other warnings that require immediate action. The National Care Guideline provides for a six-week waiting period for low back pain. An imaging procedure should only be used when the pain persists.
An analysis of health insurance data now shows that in more than 90% of patients with first-time back pain without warnings, doctors initially did without a radiological examination. If the patients were then referred to the radiologist, almost a third of them did so before the six-week waiting period had expired. Around 75% of these transfers took place within the first week.