Guerra, however, has a different view of the situation involving virtual colonoscopy. He described it as "mostly a turf battle."
Radiologists, he says, tend to like the newer "virtual" procedure, contending that the dose of radiation is a minimal risk, compared with the benefit. Gastroenterologists, on the other hand, tend to still see the traditional colonoscopy as the diagnostic gold standard.
Guerra noted that the two procedures find about the same number of colorectal cancers and, if a CT colonoscopy was done at age 50 and nothing was found, the person wouldn't need another one for 10 years. "You are not going to do more than three or four in a lifetime," he said.
In February, the FDA noted that the benefits of medical imaging were considerable because they've led to disease being diagnosed earlier, allowing better treatment options, including "image-guided therapies that help save lives every day."
But to keep radiation exposure to a minimum, the agency asked that doctors and patients keep two principles in mind: that each procedure must be justified and that the radiation be given at the minimum dose required.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more on radiation from CT scans.
SOURCES: Jorge Guerra Jr., M.D., professor, radiology, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami; March 28, 2010, The New York Times
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