Alarm about computed tomography scans is unjustified

John C P Heggie, Stacy K Goergen and Michael J Fallon
Med J Aust 2011; 194 (3): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2011.tb04204.x
Published online: 7 February 2011

To the Editor: We agree with Mendelson and colleagues1 about the need to ensure radiation doses of computed tomography (CT) are as low as reasonably achievable while maintaining diagnostic quality of the images. Perceived benefit to the patient must be balanced against theoretical small risks from the procedure. The uncertainty surrounding risk estimates at the lower end of the radiation dose range means that it is important for radiologists to take responsibility for monitoring radiation dosimetry. This becomes especially important when imaging young people with chronic disease (such as renal calculi, chronic hepatitis, cystic fibrosis and inflammatory bowel disease), who may have many CT scans while young. As stated by Mendelson et al,1 the theoretical risks are assumed to be cumulative over a lifetime, but diminish significantly the older the person is at time of exposure.

  • 1 Victorian Government Radiation Advisory Committee, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 2 Department of Diagnostic Imaging, Southern Health, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 3 Computed Tomography Scanning Reference Group, Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists, Sydney, NSW.

  • 1. Mendelson RM, Fox RA, de Klerk NH. Alarm about computed tomography scans is unjustified [letter]. Med J Aust 2010; 193: 246. <MJA full text>
  • 2. Blecher CM. Alarm about computed tomography scans is unjustified [letter]. Med J Aust 2010; 192: 723-724. <MJA full text>
  • 3. Preston DL, Shimizu Y, Pierce DA, et al. Studies of the mortality of atomic bomb survivors. Report 13: solid cancer and noncancer disease mortality: 1950–1997. Radiat Res 2003; 160: 381-407.
  • 4. Pawel D, Preston DL, Pierce D, Cologne J. Improved estimates of cancer site-specific risks for A-bomb survivors. Radiat Res 2008; 169: 87-98.
  • 5. Howe GR, McLaughlin J. Breast cancer mortality between 1950 and 1987 after exposure to fractionated moderate-dose-rate ionizing radiation in the Canadian fluoroscopy cohort study and a comparison with breast cancer mortality in the atomic bomb survivors study. Radiat Res 1996; 145: 694-707.


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