Radiation Risks From Diagnostic Procedures Examined

Strategic framework needed to reduce patient risks as use of medical radiation increases

THURSDAY, Feb. 9 (HealthDay News) -- National strategies should be developed for the use of evidence-based criteria and improved oversight of equipment to minimize radiation exposure for patients undergoing diagnostic procedures, according to a study published online Feb. 3 in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

Martha S. Linet, M.D., M.P.H., of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., and associates reviewed epidemiologic data on cancer risks associated with diagnostic procedures. The authors reviewed the definitions of radiation doses, mechanisms of radiation carcinogenesis, epidemiologic studies of medical and other radiation sources and cancer risks, and diagnostic procedure dose trends. Cancer risks were described in experimental studies, and risks projected from current imaging procedures. They also proposed a framework of strategies to decrease radiation from diagnostic imaging.

To decrease the risk of future cancer from diagnostic procedures, the authors recommend the widespread use of evidence-based appropriateness criteria for decisions about imaging procedures; oversight of equipment to deliver the minimum radiation dose necessary to achieve clinical objectives; development of imaging procedure electronic lifetime records for patients; and a commitment by relevant medical and professional personnel to educate stakeholders in reducing radiation from diagnostic procedures.

"Professionals and professional organizations that play a key role in the appropriate utilization of medical imaging are the referring medical practitioners who are responsible for ensuring that a diagnostic procedure involving ionizing radiation is necessary for a patient's care and should be expected to do more good than harm (designated as justification)," the authors write.

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