emergency

Use of high-radiation CT scans in emergency rooms triples over nine years

Sunday, December 19, 2010 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: CT scans, radiation, health news

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(NaturalNews) The use of high-tech imaging devices in hospital emergency rooms increased threefold between 1998 and 2007, indicating an overall increase in radiation exposure for the US public, according to a study conducted by researchers from Johns Hopkins Medicine and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The researchers examined records from a nationwide database of emergency room visits and found that the incidence of both magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scans performed on people with injury-related conditions tripled over the course of nine years. Yet in that same time, the diagnosis of life-threatening conditions like brain bleeding or spinal fractures barely increased at all -- suggesting that the overwhelming majority of scans were unnecessary.

"We didn't notice just a small increase in the utilization of advanced imaging," researcher Frederick Korley said. "It was a really significant increase without a corresponding increase in the diagnosis of life-threatening illness. It implies there is a potential amount of overuse or use that is not directly yielding any meaningful clinical results."

Although the study focused on effects such as higher medical costs and longer emergency room wait times, CT scans use radiation that can also increase a patient's risk of cancer.

In the past few years, medical experts and regulators have become increasingly concerned about the widespread overuse of radiation scanning technology. Highly publicized cases of radiation overdoses due to faulty scanning procedures have only heightened these worries.

"The radiation dose from a CT scan is 50 times to 100 times larger than from a conventional x-ray," writes Andreas Moritz in the book Cancer Is Not A Disease -- It's A Survival Mechanism.

"A surge in the use of CT scans in the last 25 years has led to millions of patients per year being unnecessarily exposed to dangerous radiation that increases their risk of cancer."

Sources for this story include: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6945D3....

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