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Understanding Radiation Risks and Benefits

Medical imaging may soon become the single largest source of radiation exposure to the general public, and though no one will deny its benefits for the detection and management of many diseases and life threatening conditions, the over utilization and inappropriate use of some types of imaging is of growing concern for patients and health care professionals. While the risks of potential harm from low doses of radiation such as those associated with medical imaging are controversial, it makes good sense to perform any study with the lowest dose necessary to attain a diagnostic exam, and to only do such studies when the value of the exam, both economically and to the patient, outweigh any detriment.

At Mercy Medical Center, your study will be performed by a license, professional imaging specialist using state of the art equipment. Efforts already in place to ensure that all imaging procedures are done in the safest way possible include:

  • Daily review of the CT and MRI schedules by a radiologist to assess the appropriateness of the study, and to determine if any alternative method of imaging that does not use ionizing radiation (such as ultrasound) may be substituted.
  • Utilization of dose reduction software on all hospital CT scanners that calculate and deliver a radiation dose tailored for your body type and the area being imaged.
  • Periodic quality assurance review of radiation exposure in departments where individuals have the potential to receive higher doses of radiation, such as the cardiac cath lab and interventional radiology suite.

The delivery of safe, necessary imaging by the most economically responsible and appropriate means is a shared goal of your health care provider and the imaging professionals at Mercy. To obtain a better understanding of the risks and benefits of imaging studies using ionizing radiation, and to see how much radiation you might receive from common x-ray studies and CT scans, follow the links below: