CT scans ordinarily far outweigh risks
RAS Radiologists Encourage Patients to Follow Physicians’ Orders
CT scans ordinarily far outweigh risks
For Immediate Release (Sacramento, Calif., January 29, 2010) — Radiologists at Radiological Associates of Sacramento (RAS) Medical Group Inc. and other medical practices and professional organizations are reassuring concerned patients about the safety standards in place for computed tomography (CT) scans. Two recently published research studies, which claimed that CT scans can heighten risk for cancer, generated news reports that shook the confidence of patients. David J. Seidenwurm, M.D., chair of the Diagnostic Division of RAS, observes that the benefits of prescribed CT scans ordinarily far outweigh any risks. The research papers, published Dec. 14 in the Archives of Internal Medicine, suggest that CT scans, a form of X-ray technology, overexpose patients to radiation.
One study, “Radiation Dose Associated With Common Computed Tomography Examinations and the Associated Lifetime Attributable Risk of Cancer” (conducted by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco) primarily criticized wide variations in the strength of radiation doses of CT scans administered at four medical institutions in the San Francisco Bay Area. The other study, “Projected Cancer Risks From Computed Tomographic Scans Performed in the United States in 2007” (conducted by researchers affiliated with the National Cancer Institute, along with other colleagues) concludes that the 72 million CT scans administered in 2007 will lead to development of cancer during the next 20 to 30 years in 29,000 patients, 15,000 of whom will die. James Thrall, chair of the American College of Radiology's board of chancellors, told ABC News* that the projections in the study of 2007 CT scans likely are overestimates. Thrall, who is radiologist-in-chief at Massachusetts General Hospital, said that publicity about the studies could raise unwarranted fears among patients and physicians about the safety of CT scans. He observed that about 15 million people in the test population statistically will develop cancer regardless of whether or not they are exposed to radiation.
“In that context, 29,000 is a very small number when you put it up against the immediate benefits to the patients from the scans they receive," Thrall said. Robert Smith, director of cancer screening for the American Cancer Society, also cautioned against misinterpreting the studies.
"As striking as these numbers are, we need to address this issue with common sense," Smith said in the same ABC News story. "It is important that patients not refuse a CT scan when one is indicated."
Careful radiation dosage monitoring and prudent limitation has long been a hallmark of Radiological Associates of Sacramento (RAS) Medical Group Inc. Dr. David Seidenwurm, reports that RAS examinations are tailored to limit radiation exposure in compliance with the recommendations of the American College of Radiology (ACR).
“Projections based on modeling must be interpreted in the context of the individual patient's situation. When ordered for recognized indications, the immediate benefits of diagnostic information outweigh small theoretical risks for any one individual. Because we take the health of our patients seriously, we have worked hard to keep our CT doses as low as possible and still do the job correctly,” Dr. Seidenwurm said. “CT scans have benefits that ordinarily far outweigh any risks, but when possible, we substitute magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or other methods that do not use ionizing radiation at all. I encourage patients who are concerned about the safety of CT scans to speak with their radiologist or technologist to learn more.”
RAS is among the leading radiological practices that comply with guidelines of the “Image Gently Campaign” created by The Alliance for Radiation Safety in Pediatric Imaging, in conjunction with the Society for Pediatric Radiology and ACR. The “Image Gently Campaign” specifies optimal strategies to minimize radiation exposure to children.
“Our pediatric CT protocols use radiation levels that are half of the ACR recommendations — which means we are performing pediatric studies at a reduced radiation dose well below guidelines,” said Dr. Todd Dudley, RAS’ board-certified pediatric radiologist. “During examinations we also shield the patient’s body areas that are not being scanned; for example, we routinely protect female patients with breast shields.”
RAS has a nationally recognized reputation that places it at the vanguard of radiation attenuation practice. RAS personnel helped write the performance measures for radiation dose reduction in the Medicare program, as well as measurement guidelines that the Physician Consortium for Performance Improvement (PCPI) adopted. PCPI, organized under the auspices of the American Medical Association, establishes widely accepted standard of quality of care and patient safety through testing and maintenance of evidence-based clinical performance measures and measurement resources for physicians.
RAS equipment encompasses a "dose modifier" that significantly attenuates and smoothes radiation doses. During the past two years, RAS has adopted three additional radiation-reduction protocols, for procedures involving renal stone treatment, pulmonary nodules and urological scans.
About Radiological Associates of Sacramento Radiological Associates of Sacramento (RAS) Medical Group, Inc., (www.radiological.com) is a premier provider of specialty health-care services in Northern California. Its core services include diagnostic radiology, interventional and neurointerventional radiology, radiation oncology, nuclear medicine, gynecologic oncology, thoracic surgery, urology, vein treatment, vascular surgery, and hematology and medical oncology. RAS provides quality care to patients through 31 outpatient clinics and multiple hospitals in a five-county area. *Source of ABC News report: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/CancerPreventionAndTreatment/ct-scan-radiation-lead-29000-cancers-researchers-warn/story?id=9340190&page=
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Publication Date: January 29, 2010