Advanced CT scanners to reduce radiation exposure

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New York: The growing use of CT scans could be placing patients at a higher lifetime risk of cancer from radiation exposure, but advanced CT scanning equipment has reduced the danger significantly, says a new study.

Computed tomography (CT) scans are an accepted standard of care for diagnosing heart and lung conditions.

The new study by Beaumont Health System, of 2,085 patients at nine centres in the US and Middle East, found that using newer generation, dual-source CT scanners significantly reduced radiation exposure for patients when compared with first generation, 64-slice, single-source scanners or first generation, dual-source CT scanners.

Patient radiation exposure was reduced by 61 percent with the newer scanners, with no significant difference in image quality for patients having CT scans for coronary artery disease, pulmonary embolism or aortic disease.

“Newer technology makes a difference in terms of radiation exposure and the difference is quite large,” said study author Kavitha Chinnaiyan, director of Advanced Cardiac Imaging Research at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak.

“It is important for patients to ask questions when referred for a radiation-based test to understand what the procedure involves and what the risks are of the particular technique and if there are alternative imaging choices,” she said.

The study findings also have important implications for referring physicians, she said.

“Clinicians must understand that imaging studies not only have a major impact on the care of an individual patient, but also on trends in radiation exposure, as well as overall health care costs,” Chinnaiyan added.

”Incidental findings may require further imaging studies with other radiation-based tests. It is important to discuss the risks and benefits of testing with patients, and to refer them to centres that offer newer technologies,” she said.

The study results provide information that will help in setting standards for radiation safety quality control in cardiovascular imaging.

The study appeared online in Journal of Cardiovascular Computed Tomography.

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