Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Mass General Imaging leads charge to reduce CT radiation with launch of research center, publication of clinical protocols

The Webster Center for Advanced Research and Education in Radiation, a group founded by the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Radiology to develop and promote methods of imaging using the lowest achievable level of patient radiation exposure, is pleased to announce the publication of its clinical CT protocols.

In addition, the Webster Center today announces the launch of its website, the creation of a radiation-dose fellowship program, a symposium slated for this fall, and the upcoming launch of Imaging Safely, a free e-mail newsletter that will provide physicians with monthly information on methods of radiation-dose reduction.

Mass General's clinical CT protocols provide descriptions of how to perform many specific types of CT exams and include Mass General's processes for tailoring those exams to each patient – a key factor in ensuring the lowest radiation dose.

"With this unprecedented action, the Webster Center is making Mass General's hard-won expertise available to radiology departments worldwide, which can immediately employ this knowledge to the benefit of their patients," said Mass General Radiologist-in-Chief James H. Thrall, MD, who founded the Webster Center in 2010. "The Mass General CT protocols reflect the sum total of more than a decade of clinical research, and we are proud to share these state-of-the-art methods with the radiology community."

The protocols, available for download at the Webster Center website, cover abdominal, cardiac, chest, musculoskeletal, neurological, and pediatric exams, with more to follow.

"From an educational perspective, these protocols provide a very structured display of scanning parameters down to the last detail," said Mannudeep K. Kalra, MD, an assistant radiologist in the cardiovascular and thoracic divisions at Mass General and a senior fellow of the Webster Center. "These protocols underscore the importance of tailoring exams according to clinical indications, body regions, patient age, and patient size – all of which helps optimize radiation dose."

Patient safety is part of the culture at Mass General Imaging, according to Dushyant V. Sahani, MD, director of CT Imaging. "We take pride in providing the safest possible and most effective environment to scan our patients in CT," he said. "We have fostered a successful partnership between the technologists, physicists, radiologists and the referring physicians to enable dose-optimized approaches in the realm of clinical care. Moreover, CT dose is a moving target, so we will continue to invest in new technology, research and education to meet our obligations to our patients."

The Webster Center
The Department of Radiology at Mass General has been active in reducing radiation exposure for more than a decade, striving to develop procedures that ensure the lowest possible dose for each exam while still maintaining full diagnostic confidence. Mass General radiologists and researchers have published more than 100 academic papers relating to radiation dose since the mid 1990s.

In 2010, Thrall formalized the department's commitment to radiation reduction by forming the Webster Center for Advanced Research and Education in Radiation. "The Webster Center brings together radiologists from each of Mass General's radiology subspecialties, along with physicists and computer scientists, to tackle fundamental questions of physics and biology that relate to reducing radiation while maintaining image quality," he said. "By doing this in an organized way, we are able to address every organ system and every disease. To my knowledge, it's the only such effort in the country."

The center is named in honor of the late Edward (Ted) W. Webster, PhD (1922-2005), who distinguished himself as an outstanding leader, educator, and scientist during his 47 years in the Mass General Department of Radiology and on the Harvard Medical School faculty. The center is being funded in part by a significant monetary gift Webster made to Mass General Imaging.

Fellowship programs
The Webster Center has established visiting fellowship programs for both radiologists and radiology technologists to further their understanding of CT radiation and learn practical methods of reducing CT radiation through first-hand observation at Mass General. Please see the Webster Center website for more information.

Scheduled for Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, 2011, at Massachusetts General Hospital, the 1st Annual Symposium on Radiation Safety in CT is intended to train radiologists and technologists on simple and advanced methods of reducing radiation dose while maintaining diagnostic confidence in CT examinations. Please see the Webster Center website for more information.

Imaging Safely
The Webster Center will soon launch a free email newsletter, Imaging Safely, which will provide radiologists and referring physicians with ongoing updates on radiation-dose efforts. Each issue will feature a subspecialty expert discussing the progress being made in his or her area of expertise, plus an image gallery, case examples, and links to recent academic papers. The newsletter will be published monthly and will be available via the Webster Center website.

Ask the experts
In addition to publishing Mass General's CT protocols, the Webster Center invites physicians and other radiology professionals to submit questions about radiation-dose reduction to Our experts will answer those questions and publish selected questions and answers on the Webster Center website and in the Imaging Safely newsletter.

About the Massachusetts General Hospital
Celebrating the 200th anniversary of its founding in 1811, Massachusetts General Hospital is the original and largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. The MGH conducts the largest hospital-based research program in the United States, with an annual research budget of nearly $700 million and major research centers in AIDS, cardiovascular research, cancer, computational and integrative biology, cutaneous biology, human genetics, medical imaging, neurodegenerative disorders, reproductive biology, regenerative medicine, reproductive biology, systems biology, transplantation biology and photomedicine.

Donita Boddie, (617) 724-5627;

Mike Morrison, (617) 724-6425;

Back to Top