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Today's Debate: How far can scans go?

These scans also cost less than operations. The big problem is that, since they're cheap and painless, doctors may be tempted to over-prescribe them. Insurance carriers are working hard to prevent this. Some say, too hard.

Markos MoulitsasA few years ago I had a colonoscopy. It was not nearly as bad as advertised -- get yours now. (This gentleman has a CT scan scheduled for Monday -- good luck, Kos.)

But it was, technically, a procedure. I was knocked out and equipment went inside my body. This is always risky.

Two new studies show my next one may not be necessary. Virtual colonography, using a CT scanner to to take a series of X-rays and a computer to create a 3-D view, may work better.

Something similar is happening in heart disease, using the iLab Ultrasound imager from Boston Scientific. No more guessing about coronary artery disease. Check things with a machine and the patient who doesn't need an angioplasty walks away.

These scans also cost less than operations. The big problem is that, since they're cheap and painless, doctors may be tempted to over-prescribe them. Insurance carriers are working hard to prevent this. Some say, too hard.

Today's question, then. How far can this trend go? And how will we control costs when it's so much easier to be safe than sorry?