Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Huge Increase In Radiation Exposure From Diagnostic Imaging

From the 13 June 2012 Medical News Today article

As imaging technology advances and medical devices improve, healthcare professionals are more inclined to use these state-of-the art scanners to look inside patients’ bodies. Computed tomography usage, for example, more than tripled between 1996 and 2010. Over the same period, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) usage increased fourfold. It is not surprising, therefore, that patient radiation exposure has also risen.

An article in JAMA, published today, asks the question to see if this technological dependance is going too far or even putting patients in danger with too many scans. Some people are worried about raditation from mobile phones, so stepping inside a multi-million dollar machine that blasts the body with one type of electromagnetic resonance or another, is going to draw warranted safety questions…

..One of the main points made in the article is that there has never been a comprehensive study of how much use healthcare providers are making of imaging technology. The studies that have been done are usually based around private practices and done for insurance purposes, and in these cases, imaging is usually encouraged. Looking at a wider range of patients and facilities enables the authors to provide us with a clear picture.

The authors summarize the use of various imaging techniques:

  • Radiography and angiography/fluoroscopy rates were relatively stable over time: radiography increased 1.2 percent per year, and angiography/fluoroscopy decreased 1.3 percent per year.
  • Computed tomography examinations tripled (52/1000 enrollees in 1996 to 149/1000 in 2010, 7.8 percent annual growth)
  • MRIs quadrupled (17/1000 to 65/1000,10 percent annual growth)…

…while healthcare has obviously improved with the use of technology, given the high costs of imaging, some $100 Billion annually, combined with the cancer risks and other possible side effects, the benefits of sending patients for scans, should be balanced by weighing the medical needs against both financial and heath risks of the technology itself.

Related Resource

   Choosing Wisely (US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality)

Choosing Wisely™ aims to get physicians, patients and other health care stakeholders thinking and talking about the overuse or misuse of medical tests and procedures that provide little benefit, and in some instances harm.
Includes tips,scenarios, and information to get the most out of doctor visits.

 

English: Osteoarthritis Initiative (OAI) resea...

English: Osteoarthritis Initiative (OAI) researchers at Ohio State University look through the opening of an MRI machine, used to image the knees of patients. The OAI, a public-private partnership, led by NIAMS and the National Institute on Aging with additional support from five other Institutes and Centers, funds research and information sharing resources to aid in the identification of biological markers for osteoarthritis. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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June 14, 2012 - Posted by | Consumer Health, health care | , , , ,

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