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Committee Set Up to Review Safety of CT Scans

The Department of Health (DoH) has set up a special healthcare committee to look into the safety of CT scans on healthy people.//

The Department of Health has asked the Committee on the Medical Aspects of Radiation (COMARE) to look into the safety of the CT scans in preventative healthcare to ensure that the long-term benefits are greater than the risks attached to radiation exposure in people with no obvious signs of illness.

CT scans are used by several private clinics as a diagnostic tool for detecting early signs of a disease. However, some CT scans can deliver a radiation dose beyond normal X-ray levels.

Due to concerns about the safety of giving such high radiation doses to people with no obvious signs of illness, the committee was set up to review risks and benefits of CT scanning in preventative healthcare.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "We asked the COMARE to look at the benefits and risks of using CT scanning in preventative healthcare. A Medical Practices subcommittee was set up to consider the issue and is due to report in 2007."

She also said that "DoH regulates medical exposures to ionizing radiation, such as x-rays or CT scans, to ensure that the long-term benefits to the individual outweigh possible risks associated with radiation."

The medical fraternity is divided about the issue with some doctors saying it saves lives while others arguing that it is unnecessary in the absence of any obvious signs of illness.

British Medical Association in a report last year warned that scans can cause unnecessary anxiety as they pick up abnormalities, which are found to be benign after further tests or even surgery.

A BMA spokesman said: "We are only in favor of screening when it is part of a national evidence-based program. Whole body CT scans can cause false alarms and be potentially misleading. We do have concerns over people going for scans in the p rivate sector on an ad-hoc basis."

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