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FDA Hears Views on Risks of High Tech Scanners
Date:3/31/2010

Agency looking to increase safety of increasingly popular imaging procedures such as virtual colonoscopy

WEDNESDAY, March 31 (HealthDay News) -- Fears that popular medical imaging technologies are exposing Americans to too much radiation are getting a public airing this week as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration concludes two days of meetings on Wednesday that have focused on how to increase the safety of these procedures.

Specifically, the agency is seeking ideas to get manufacturers of the devices used for CT scans and fluoroscopy to set higher standards for their equipment and increase the amount of training they offer those who use the equipment.

The aim is to "help reduce unnecessary patient exposure to ionizing radiation" during these procedures, the FDA said. The imaging techniques, which are two of the top three contributors to total radiation exposure among Americans, use much higher radiation doses than standard X-rays, dental X-rays and mammography, potentially increasing the lifetime risk for cancer.

In addition, accidental radiation exposure can result in injuries, such as burns, hair loss and cataracts.

Dr. Jorge Guerra Jr., a professor of radiology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, agreed that manufacturers need to "give us the best equipment [and] teach us how to use it properly." Scanning should only be done by trained professionals, he stressed.

But, Guerra, said, "it's the overuse of CT that's really killing it." There need to be clearer guidelines for the use of CT and other radiological devices, he said, including specific criteria on who should be getting scans for what particular conditions.

"Yes, there is an increased risk of cancer in the general population from the overuse of radiation," he said. "Let's work on cutting down on the overuse of radiation -- not cutting out the technology."

According to the U.S. National Cancer Ins
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