Should You Worry About CT Scan Radiation?

Kai Ti Hsu for The Washington Post

Kai Ti Hsu for The Washington Post

As covered here, here and here on our news blog, in the past year many popular US media outlets investigated the potential pitfalls of over-using CT imaging.

With the Washington Post’s recent article, there is continuing attention being paid by the mainstream media to inform their readership that some medical imaging tests – like X-rays, PET scans, and CT scans – use ionizing radiation and can damage DNA and cause cancer.

CT scans for example, use hundreds of X-rays to create their detailed images, and while a single scan shouldn’t cause much alarm, many Americans undergo multiple exams.

Over-utilization of CT should be particularly concerning for patients who are at risk of accruing large cumulative doses. Specific patient populations with chronic conditions that have been found to have high rates of repeat imaging include patients with Crohn’s disease and renal colic.

As discussed in the Post’s investigation, “A 2009 study by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston found that among 31,000 patients who had a diagnostic CT scan in 2007, 33 percent had more than five during their lifetime, 5 percent received 22 or more and 1 percent underwent more than 38 scans.”

ImageInbox is an essential tool for providers to play their part in preventing unnecessary imaging studies – the software enables providers to exchange images with referrals in seconds.

Also patients can use the free ImageInbox app to keep a full-diagnostic copy of their imaging records, accessible to them wherever and whenever needed in the future via their smartphone. That way if they’ve undergone a CT scan, there is never again a problem of having to repeat the same study because the prior images were unavailable.