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NIH Wants CT Makers to Track Radiation Doses

February 2, 2010
Written by: , Filed in: Interventional Radiology
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In response to concerns over radiation overexposure, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will require all makers of CT scanners used at NIH clinics to use software that tracks and logs a patient’s radiation dose.

The number of CT scans in the U.S. has skyrocketed over the last couple of decades—up from 3 million in 1980 to 70 million in 2007—and researchers and reporters have been questioning their safety.

“The cancer risk from low-dose medical radiation tests is largely unknown,” said David A. Bluemke, MD, director of Radiology and Imaging Sciences at the NIH Clinical Center. “Yet it is clear that the U.S. population is increasingly being exposed to more diagnostic-test-derived ionizing radiation than in the past.”  Bluemke is the lead study author of an article in the current Journal of the American College of Radiology which outlines the NIH plan. According to the article, researchers hope radiation monitoring will lead to a better assessment of cancer risks.

The new reporting policy will affect all major equipment vendors to the NIH, beginning with exposures from CT/PET. The policy requires all vendors to provide a way to record radiation doses in electronic records. Vendors will also have to ensure that patients can track radiation exposure records in their own personal health files.

In a press release, Bluemke urged medical facilities to follow in the NIH’s steps. “The accumulation of medical testing doses of hundreds of thousands of individuals in the United States over many years will ultimately be necessary,” Bluemke said.

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