Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Recent issue of Scientific American examines CT scans and risk of cancer


Radiation reduction: Our ongoing commitment

Department of Radiology Chairman Emeritus James H. Thrall, MD, discusses our decade-long commitment to reducing CT radiation to as low a level as possible for each patient.

Mass General Imaging has developed software tools that help referring physicians choose exams that match the patient's needs—including radiation-free alternatives. 

The July 2013 issue of Scientific American examines research methodology to predict future cancer risk associated with CT scans, noting that "most estimates of the excess cancer risk from CT scans over the past several decades rely largely on a potentially misleading data set" - atomic bomb survivors. To better understand the risks of radiation, several researchers are now studying cancer cases among people who have received CT scans.

Regardless of the data, researchers and clinicians are already working to reduce radiation levels without compromising image quality, according to the article. It specifically highlights research conducted by Mannudeep Kalra, MD and Sarabjeet Singh, MBBS of the Mass General Department of Radiology. Using cadavers as their study population:

"...the researchers have discovered that they can diagnose certain abnormal growths in the lungs and perform routine chest exams with about 75 percent less radiation than usual—a strategy Mass General has since adopted. Singh and Kalra are now sharing their methods with radiologists and technologists from hospitals and scanning centers across the U.S. and around the globe."

For over 20 years, Mass General researchers have been at the forefront of contributing to the scientific literature on developing and implementing radiation dose-reduction techniques. Founded in 2010 and co-directed by Dr. Kalra, the Webster Center at Mass General is dedicated to developing and promoting imaging methods that ensure the lowest achievable level of patient exposure to radiation.



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