Imaging technology has been revolutionary for medicine and its use has surged from 3 million in 1980 to 60 million in 2006. However, new studies are cautious of constant radiation exposure. Reports over the past 10 years have shown that repeated CT scans can increase a patient’s risk of developing cancer.

There’s worry about patients being able to view their cumulative radiation exposure as it may lead to an increase in liability risks for doctors. Patients might also refuse necessary tests out of fear of elevated numbers. Physicians are now being encouraged to document patients’ radiation exposure in electronic health records (EHR) so that they can be aware of when they might need to consider alternative methods, such as MRIs or ultrasounds. Radiology experts are wary of this new movement because they’re still unsure of what a safe dose is.

Montefiore Medical Center has kept track of their patients CT scans, but not of their cumulative radiation exposure. It’s estimated that 5 scans would expose one to 50 millisieverts of radiation, which has been set as the threshold. After reviewing data on survivors of the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it was shown that those exposed to 50 to 100 millisieverts had a significantly larger risk of cancer.

Author: Apoorva Anupindi