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NCRP Report No. 160 on increased average radiation exposure of the US population
Date:3/3/2009

s that CT scans are given disproportionally to certain people and groups -- for example, the elderly, people admitted to hospitals for serious trauma, and cancer patients having scans to evaluate their response to treatment. The vast majority of Americans receive no radiation from medical imaging at all, or they receive imaging exams that do not use ionizing radiation, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or ultrasound procedures.

"Adding up all the doses and then spreading out the total over the entire population, no matter a person's age, occupation, location, or health status is not appropriate for assessing risk to the general population," says Cynthia McCollough, Ph.D., FAAPM, FACR, who is a professor of radiological physics at the Mayo Clinic and who chaired an AAPM Task Group that issued a CT radiation dose management report last year. "The NCRP report is very clear in this regard. The data summarize the sources and amounts of radiation exposure in the U.S. and the total values are normalized to the total U.S. population. The values reported are not appropriate for estimating potential health effects."

McCollough points out that the medical applications of CT have grown tremendously in the last few decades as the technology has become more and more sophisticated, often replacing more risky invasive or less accurate alternative tests. CT and other medical imaging procedures have nearly eliminated exploratory surgery and enabled minimally invasive surgery both which have shortened or eliminated hospitalization and reduced the risk of surgery related co-morbidity like infection. CT scanners have also reduced the volumes of radiation therapy fields, thereby reducing the probability of radiation harm, including second malignancies.

While the absolute number of CT exams has grown considerably since the 1980s, CT scanners can now tailor the radiation dose to the specific exam type and individual. All modern CT systems are now equipped
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Contact: Jason Bardi
jbardi@aip.org
301-209-3091
American Institute of Physics
Source:Eurekalert

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