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Study tracks increasing use of CT on pregnant women
Date:3/16/2009

ly safe during pregnancy and is often used to detect potentially life-threatening problems," Dr. Lazarus said. "However, this study should raise awareness about imaging trends in pregnant patients and help us continue in our efforts to minimize radiation exposure," Dr. Lazarus said.

The researchers evaluated 5,270 examinations on 3,285 patients. During the 10 years of the study, the number of patients imaged per year increased from 237 to 449, and the number of exams per year increased from 331 to 732. This represented an 89 percent increase in patients and a 121 percent increase in examinations over the course of the study. During the same 10 years, the number of deliveries only increased 7 percent from 8,661 to 9,264. Imaging utilization rates (exams per 1,000 deliveries) increased 107 percent.

Use of plain-film x-rays increased an average of 6.8 percent per year, and the number of nuclear medicine examinations rose by approximately 11.6 percent annually. Fluoroscopy utilization increased by 10.6 percent per year, and CT examinations increased by 25.3 percent per year.

A milliGray (mGy) is a unit of measure for absorbed radiation. The average estimated fetal radiation exposure per exam for CT was 4.3 mGy, compared to 2.91 mGy for fluoroscopy, 0.40 mGy for nuclear medicine and 0.43 mGy for x-rays.

Dr. Lazarus hopes that increased use of electronic medical records will help physicians and patients keep track of the number and types of imaging tests performed on pregnant women and give proper consideration to alternative imaging testssuch as MRI and ultrasoundthat do not expose the patient or fetus to ionizing radiation.


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Contact: Linda Brooks
lbrooks@rsna.org
630-590-7762
Radiological Society of North America
Source:Eurekalert

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