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CT Scans: Too Much of a Good Thing Can Be Risky

por Lynn Shapiro, Writer | March 31, 2009

"CT is an excellent diagnostic tool of tremendous clinical value in many situations," Dr. Sodickson said. "Individual decisions about its use should balance the expected clinical benefits against the potential cumulative risks of recurrent imaging."

Dr. Sodickson points out that for patients who have not undergone a large number of CT scans, the benefits of appropriate CT exams typically outweigh the potential risks. "However, we feel that a higher clinical threshold is warranted in patients undergoing a large amount of recurrent CT imaging," Dr. Sodickson said, "particularly if many of their prior CT scans have been negative. This scenario may result in a combination of high cumulative risk with low clinical benefit."

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Dr. Sodickson hopes that these findings will raise awareness of cumulative radiation exposure concerns, so that physicians will be better able to incorporate patient-specific radiation risk estimates into the CT decision-making process.

"Recurrent CT, Cumulative Radiation Exposure, and Associated Radiation-induced Cancer Risks from CT of Adults." Collaborating with Dr. Sodickson were Pieter F. Baeyens, M.D., Katherine P. Andriole, Ph.D., Luciano M. Prevedello, M.D., Richard D. Nawfel, M.S., Richard Hanson, and Ramin Khorasani, M.D., M.P.H. Journal attribution requested.

Source: RSNA

Radiology is edited by Herbert Y. Kressel, M.D., Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass., and owned and published by the Radiological Society of North America, Inc. (radiology.rsnajnls.org)

RSNA is an association of more than 42,000 radiologists, radiation oncologists, medical physicists and related scientists committed to excellence in patient care through education and research. (RSNA.org)

For more information on CT and radiation safety, visit RadiologyInfo.org.

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