It's time for a routine checkup and you go to your doctor expecting a physical examination, blood tests, chest X-ray and an EKG (electrocardiogram). Surprise. Studies have shown that the last two tests may be unnecessary. There are several reasons why the routine EKG, which measures electrical activity of the heart, has fallen out of favor. First, the chance of a person with no history of and at no risk for heart disease to actually have it is exceedingly small. And the EKG is a poor predictor for future heart disease. Not only does the test provide little useful information when used during a routine exam, but it--on the average--costs $65.
Routine chest X-rays also are ineffective. In screening for lung disease, they often identify disease too late, and they also provide little information about a person who is otherwise healthy. Add to this the problems of radiation exposure and expense (the average cost is about $125) and it's no wonder the routine chest X-ray is being phased out.