February 3, 2010

Radiation Exposure from CT, PET/CT Will Be Tracked at the NIH

Current Issues & Debates
  • Controversies exist whether low-dose (less than 150 mSv) medical radiation tests are related to development of cancer.
  • Model used to extrapolate the cancer risk from low-dose medical radiation exposure is a "linear-no-threshold hypothesis", which implies that any amount of ionizing radiation (even small) has a finite probability of inducing cancer.
  • This approach is widely accepted and used for radiation protection regulations and guidelines by the International Commission on Radiological Protection.
  • Several recent studies and news reports have raised concerns regarding radiation exposure from medical devices (particularly CT and nuclear cardiology)
  • A recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine estimated that radiation from CT might cause 29,000 new cancers and 14,500 deaths a year. Another study in the same journal pointed out that patients may have received much higher radiation from imaging tests than previous believed. Read synopsis in the older RiT post.
Addressing These Issues by NIH
  • Radiology and Imaging Sciences at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center will incorporate radiation dose exposure reports into the electronic medical record (EMR)
  • The process will be developed in corporation with major equipment vendors beginning with exposures from CT and PET/CT
  • Radiation dose will be recorded, entered into DICOM header for CT and PET/CT and stored either in radiology information system or preferably hospital-based EMR. It should be trackable by patients in their own personal health records
What Will It Do?
  • It is the first step toward monitoring patient dose
  • It is the basis for future research on this subject
  • Who knows, in the future this may be required in all institutions...
Are you monitoring patient dose of CT and PET/CT in your institution? If yes, how?

Neumann RD, Bluemke DA. Tracking radiation exposure from diagnostic imaging devices at the NIH. J Am Coll Radiol 2010;7:87-89.

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