Everyone is exposed to natural radiation in the environment every day. Many imaging studies or tests expose a person to radiation. The exposure is higher than natural radiation. There has been increased use of diagnostic imaging, especially CT, in the past 30 years. This has increased concern for lifetime radiation exposure with repeated CT scans. While there is no conclusive evidence that radiation from diagnostic exams causes cancer, there is concern that increased radiation exposure may lead to increased cancer risk.
What is National Jewish Health doing to decrease radiation exposure for patients?
Every day we are exposed to radiation from the environment. People living in the Denver area are exposed to about 6 milliseverts (mSv) every year.1 Radiation is accumulative over time, so it is important to be aware of your exposure. National Jewish Health established a radiation dose reduction program in 2009. Your health and safety are our highest concern.
The program includes:
- Developing and perfecting a method of performing chest CT at a reduced dose
- Obtaining American College of Radiology Accreditation in CT, MRI, nuclear medicine, PET (Positron Emission Tomography) and ultrasound
- Encouraging the use of MRI and ultrasound (which use no ionizing radiation) whenever possible
- Providing formal interpretations of outside imaging examinations when appropriate to avoid unnecessary repeat exams
The radiologists and Division of Radiology at National Jewish Health work hard to ensure every patient’s imaging study is:
- The right exam by verifying the exam is the right test to answer the clinical question
- For the right reason by ensuring the right indication for the examination
- At the right time by verifying the date of the previous study and assuring the follow-up study is done at the appropriate time to avoid an unnecessary examination
- With the right protocol by following the correct protocol for the procedure
- At the right dose by using advanced exam software and tools to help reduce the radiation dose.
The risk of medical radiation exposure is small compared with the benefits of an appropriate exam. National Jewish Health is committed to Image Wisely and Image Gently. The Image Wisely and Image Gently Programs were developed by health care provider organizations concerned about radiation safety.
1Centers for Disease Control Toxicological Profiles
For additional information:
This information has been approved by Debra S. Dyer, MD (December 2012).