New generation CT scanners significantly reduce patient radiation exposure

Researchers at Beaumont Health Systems have found that the use of advanced CT scanners can significantly reduce patient radiation dose and lower patients' lifetime risk of cancer from radiation exposure.

In the study, published in the June 20 online issue of The Journal of Cardiovascular Computed Tomography, researchers wanted to compare radiation dose levels from new generation, dual-source CT scanners with levels from first generation 64-slice, single-source scanners and first generation, dual-source scanners.

More than 2,000 patients at nine sites in the U.S. and the Middle East were involved in the study. Patients were imaged for coronary artery disease, pulmonary embolism, aortic disease and triple rule out.

The researchers found that patient radiation exposure was reduced by 61 percent with the newer generation scanners, with no significant difference in imaging quality.

"Newer technology makes a difference in terms of radiation exposure and the difference is quite large," lead author Kavitha Chinnaiyan, director of advanced cardiac imaging research at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan, said in an announcement. "It is important for patients to ask questions when referred for a radiation-based test to understand what the procedure involves and what the risks are of the particular technique and if there are alternative imaging choices."

Chinnaiyan added that the findings have implications for referring physicians.

"Clinicians must understand that imaging studies not only have a major impact on the care of an individual patient, but also on trends in radiation exposure, as well as overall health care costs," she said. "Incidental findings may require further imaging studies with other radiation-based tests. In addition to choosing patients appropriately, it is important to discuss the risks and benefits of testing with patients, and to refer them to centers that offer newer technologies."

The University of Ottawa Heart Institute (UOHI) recently was able to cut radiation doses in half for the vast majority of its nuclear cardiology patients via a new initiative that combines optimizing test protocols, state-of-the-art equipment and high-tech software.

To learn more:
- see the study in The Journal of Cardiovascular Computed Tomography
- check out the announcement from Beaumont