An open letter from James A. Brink, MD, Radiologist-in-Chief, to the Massachusetts General Hospital medical community about radiation exposure and imaging
February 7, 2014
While imaging provides great insight into patients’ medical conditions, we understand concerns about radiation exposure, especially from CT scans. Such concerns often give way to questions from patients when the issue is raised in the media as it was last week in a New York Times opinion editorial.
We recognize the difficulty of weighing future risk against immediate benefit, particularly when the future risk is uncertain. Radiation exposure is minimized the most when radiation-free imaging alternatives are employed, including ultrasound and MRI. However, when a CT scan is clinically warranted, the immediate benefits outweigh the small potential long-term risk.
For over 20 years, Mass General has been at the forefront of research into reducing radiation exposure from imaging exams. Rooted in a commitment that extends from development to implementation of radiation dose-reduction methods, we customize each scan based on numerous factors to achieve the lowest radiation dose that answers the clinical question.
If your patients have any concerns about radiation and CT scans at Mass General, please direct them to our website at massgeneralimaging.org/radiation for access to the following resources:
- A Q&A on patient safety and pediatric CT scans
- A graphic representation of radiation dose reduction by exam at Mass General
- A video on our decision-support tool for identifying radiation-free alternatives
- The Webster Center for Advanced Research and Education in Radiation
We also recommend the following additional sources of information to support radiation safety:
We encourage all patients to discuss the risks and benefits of any imaging exam with their doctor, and we look forward to collaborating with you as partners in our patients’ care.
James A. Brink, MD
Massachusetts General Hospital