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IAEA calls for enhanced radiation protection of patients
Date:4/29/2009

Vienna, EMBARGOED UNTIL WEDNESDAY - 29. APRIL 2009 AT 13.00 CET -- Advances in medical imaging techniques are allowing doctors to detect hidden diseases and make ever more accurate diagnoses. But radiation safety experts at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) say that overuse of high-tech scanning procedures may unnecessarily expose patients to increased radiation levels. The IAEA, in collaboration with other international organizations, is developing a series of measures aimed at strengthening patient protection. The focus of recent efforts is a Smart Card project, to log how much radiation a person receives in the course of a lifetime.

Concern surrounds procedures such as computed tomography (CT) scans because they deliver higher doses of radiation to patients in comparison to conventional X-rays (radiographs). It's been estimated that the average radiation dose of one CT scan is equal to roughly 500 chest X-rays. And that can increase a patient's lifetime risk of cancer, particularly if CT scans are repeated.

"The medical application of ionizing radiation is the fastest growing source of radiation exposure to human beings today," says Renate Czarwinski, Head of the IAEA's Radiation Safety and Monitoring Section. "We acknowledge the great value of the new technologies, but want to ensure that each and every examination is justified. The radiation protection of patients is also important."

According to the latest estimates of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), as many as four billion diagnostic X-ray examinations are carried out worldwide each year. This represents an increase of more than 17% over the last ten years in the collective dose to the world's population.

In particular, the use of CT scanning has grown dramatically in recent years. This X-ray based procedure provides three-dimensional views of, for exam
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Contact: IAEA Press Office
press@iaea.org
43-126-002-1273
International Atomic Energy Agency
Source:Eurekalert

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