Quality initiatives* radiation risk: what you should know to tell your patient.
ABSTRACT The steady increase in the number of radiologic procedures being performed is undeniably having a beneficial impact on healthcare. However, it is also becoming common practice to quantify the health detriment from radiation exposure by calculating the number of cancer-related deaths inferred from the effective dose delivered to a given patient population. The inference of a certain number of expected deaths from the effective dose is to be discouraged, but it remains important as a means of raising professional awareness of the danger associated with ionizing radiation. The risk associated with a radiologic examination appears to be rather low compared with the natural risk. However, any added risk, no matter how small, is unacceptable if it does not benefit the patient. The concept of diagnostic reference levels should be used to reduce variations in practice among institutions and to promote optimal dose indicator ranges for specific imaging protocols. In general, the basic principles of radiation protection (eg, justification and optimization of a procedure) need to be respected to help counteract the unjustified explosion in the number of procedures being performed.
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ABSTRACT: A retrospective cohort study was conducted in 5573 female patients with scoliosis who were referred for treatment at 14 orthopedic medical centers in the United States. Patients were less than 20 years of age at diagnosis which occurred between 1912 and 1965. To evaluate patterns in breast cancer mortality among women with scoliosis, with special emphasis on risk associated with diagnostic radiograph exposures. A pilot study of 1030 women with scoliosis revealed a nearly twofold statistically significant increased risk for incident breast cancer. Although based on only 11 cases, findings were consistent with radiation as a causative factor. Medical records were reviewed for information on personal characteristics and scoliosis history. Diagnostic radiograph exposures were tabulated based on review of radiographs, radiology reports in the medical records, radiograph jackets, and radiology log books. Radiation doses were estimated for individual examinations. The mortality rate of the cohort through January 1, 1997, was determined by using state and national vital statistics records and was compared with that of women in the general U. S. population. Nearly 138,000 radiographic examinations were recorded. The average number of examinations per patient was 24.7 (range, 0-618); mean estimated cumulative radiation dose to the breast was 10.8 cGy (range, 0-170). After excluding patients with missing information, 5466 patients were included in breast cancer mortality analyses. Their mean age at diagnosis was 10.6 years and average length of follow-up was 40.1 years. There were 77 breast cancer deaths observed compared with the 45.6 deaths expected on the basis of U.S. mortality rates (standardized mortality ratio [SMR] = 1.69; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.3-2.1). Risk increased significantly with increasing number of radiograph exposures and with cumulative radiation dose. The unadjusted excess relative risk per Gy was 5.4 (95% CI = 1.2-14.1); when analyses were restricted to patients who had undergone at least one radiographic examination, the risk estimate was 2.7 (95% CI = -0. 2-9.3). These data suggest that exposure to multiple diagnostic radiographic examinations during childhood and adolescence may increase the risk of breast cancer among women with scoliosis; however, potential confounding between radiation dose and severity of disease and thus with reproductive history may explain some of the increased risk observed.Spine 09/2000; 25(16):2052-63. · 2.16 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Equations are derived for generating accumulated dose distributions and the dose line integral in a cylindrical dosimetry phantom for a helical CT scan series from the single slice dose profiles using convolution methods. This exposition will better clarify the nature of the dose distribution in helical CT, as well as providing the medical physicist with a better understanding of the physics involved in dose delivery and the measurement process. Also addressed is the concern that as radiation beam widths for multi-slice scanners get wider, the current methodology based on the measurement of the integral of the single slice profile using a 10 cm long ion chamber (CTDI100) may no longer be adequate. It is shown that this measurement would underestimate the equilibrium dose and dose line integral by about 20% in the center of the body phantom, and by about 10% in the center of the head phantom for a 20 mm nominal beam width in a multi-slice scanner. Rather than making the ion chamber even longer to collect the broad scatter tails of the single slice profile, an alternative to the CTDI method is suggested which involves using a small volume ion chamber, and scanning a length of phantom long enough to establish dose equilibrium at the location of the chamber. With a modern CT scanner, such a scan length can be covered in 15 s or less with a helical or axial series, so this method is not significantly more time-consuming than the long chamber method. The method is demonstrated experimentally herein.Medical Physics 07/2003; 30(6):1272-80. · 2.91 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: High doses of ionizing radiation clearly produce deleterious consequences in humans, including, but not exclusively, cancer induction. At very low radiation doses the situation is much less clear, but the risks of low-dose radiation are of societal importance in relation to issues as varied as screening tests for cancer, the future of nuclear power, occupational radiation exposure, frequent-flyer risks, manned space exploration, and radiological terrorism. We review the difficulties involved in quantifying the risks of low-dose radiation and address two specific questions. First, what is the lowest dose of x- or gamma-radiation for which good evidence exists of increased cancer risks in humans? The epidemiological data suggest that it is approximately 10-50 mSv for an acute exposure and approximately 50-100 mSv for a protracted exposure. Second, what is the most appropriate way to extrapolate such cancer risk estimates to still lower doses? Given that it is supported by experimentally grounded, quantifiable, biophysical arguments, a linear extrapolation of cancer risks from intermediate to very low doses currently appears to be the most appropriate methodology. This linearity assumption is not necessarily the most conservative approach, and it is likely that it will result in an underestimate of some radiation-induced cancer risks and an overestimate of others.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 12/2003; 100(24):13761-6. · 9.74 Impact Factor