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Experts recommend closer scrutiny of radiation exposure from CT scans
Date:11/28/2012

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) Amid increasing fear of overexposure to radiation from CT scans, a panel of experts has recommended more research on the health effects of medical imaging and ways to reduce unnecessary CT tests, as well as industry standardization of CT machines.

The recommendations, published in the November 2012 issue of Radiology, were developed at the Radiation Dose Summit, organized by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB). The summit included more than 100 medical physicists, radiologists, cardiologists, engineers, industry representatives and patient advocates. The proceedings, held in Bethesda, MD in early 2011, covered currently understood risks of radiation exposure from CT scans, set priorities for future research, and called for changes to industry practices.

"The number of CT exams in the U.S. has increased by about 10 percent each year over the past decade," said John Boone, UC Davis professor of radiology and lead author of the Radiology article. "This trend underscores the importance of developing a better understanding of the health risks of radiation exposure versus the benefits of enhanced diagnosis."

The experts conceded that despite widespread public concern about radiation risks, the biologic effects from medical imaging tests are not entirely understood. Most direct evidence comes from the effects of instantaneous, high-dose, whole-body exposures due to industrial accidents and from survivors of the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. Whether these findings can be extrapolated to people exposed to occasional and much smaller dosages applied to only parts of the body is uncertain.

"The standards regarding 'safe levels' of radiation were designed for workplace safety and are very conservative," said Boone. "We don't know whether the established thresholds are really meaningful for exposure from medical testing."

The experts poi
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Contact: Dorsey Griffith
dorsey.griffith@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu
916-734-9118
University of California - Davis Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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