Radiation Safety - A Radiologist's Area of Expertise

Reducing radiation dose is paramount to radiologists to ensure that patients continue to receive safe, appropriate care. While there have yet to be any proven cases of cancer related to routine CT scan radiation exposure, it is imperative that we in the radiology industry continue to improve the techniques available to keep radiation exposure as low as reasonably achievable, aka ALARA.

The monitoring of fluoroscopy times during procedures has long been in place. There are standards of care which include dose limits beyond which appropriate counseling is required if exceeded. There are techniques such as active collimation, which "can reduce the dose anywhere from 5% to about 30% for helical scanning.” CT scans also use 2D and 3D filters to reduce radiation dose. Iterative reconstruction is a very attractive technique where, once the patient is scanned, the computer "makes several passes over the data to produce a more accurate model of the image and reduce the amount of noise. These extra computations also allow the image to be acquired with a much lower dose, anywhere from 40% to 80% less depending on the manufacturer, the type of scan, and the scanner that’s used."

The technical aspects of CT scanning and fluoroscopy are not the issues to focus upon. Rather, rest assured that you and your loved ones are being cared for with your safety in mind when you visit a radiology department.

An ACR-accredited radiology department or imaging center is required to meet and follow specific regulations regarding radiation exposure. Becoming an accredited facility and maintaining that accreditation gives visitors peace of mind that their safety is first and foremost. Ask your doctor whether the facility you are going to visit for a needed radiology imaging study is appropriately accredited. Your safety and health depend on it.