1 Heart Attack, 725 Xrays

Mention Orlando, Florida and one tends to think of Mickey Mouse and Disneyworld, but the current proceedings of the American Heart Association at the gigantic Convention Center are revealing some data that seem to take the mickey out of the public.

Graphic details..but each CT scan of the Heart results in over-exposure to Radiation

Researchers studied heart patients in 49 hospitals in the US (here) and found that the battery of tests given to a heart attack patient adds up to a radiation dose equivalent to 725 chest Xrays! That’s about a third the annual maximum accumulation permitted for workers in nuclear power plants.

CT Scan in progress - benefits may not be worth the risk sometimes

A patient was given an average of seven tests using ionizing radiation, which included repeated chest Xrays, angiograms, multi-slice CTs and ordinary CT scans. The US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has warned that the principal risk associated with  radiation dose  from a CT scan is the small possibility of developing a radiation-induced cancer some time later in that person’s life.

While I believe that doctors should not withhold tests involving ionising radiation where appropriate, there has been a significant overuse of such devices in recent years for inappropriate and irrelevant reasons. Part of the reason may be the necessity to recoup the capital costs as quickly as possible (especially in physician-owned machines located in stand-alone set-ups) but the other reason is also from  demand from the  public for the latest tests without appreciating the true benefits and possible dangers.

Whatever the reason, an informed consent is mandatory so that the parties involved can weigh on the benefits versus the risks.

See my related article:

Why the latest Heart Scans are popular..but not foolproof

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5 responses

  1. What I like about your blog is that I keep learning from it…and you have a good writing style!

  2. what about MRI machines?
    Doctor2008 says: MRIs, as the name implies, uses magnetic waves, not Xrays; so no danger of radiation at all.

  3. Gosh! I had a CTU done sometime in June, and today a CT scan with contrast injected (on pelvic and abdomen).
    Am I taking up too much radiation doses for my own good?
    Doctor2008 replies: There are many variables to consider, like the type of CT machine, the radiation dose given by the radiographer; its worth bringing up this matter with your doc. If the tests are really necessary, sometimes there’s little choice!

  4. […] 1 Heart Attack, 725 Xrays « Doctor2008's Weblog document.write(''); Share and Enjoy: […]

  5. I really enjoyed reading through this post.Many thanks.

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