CT Scans & Excess Radiation

CT Scan Radiation Risk Worries FDA Officials

Regulators at the Food and Drug Administration (news - web sites) (FDA) are concerned that the growing popularity of high-tech computerized body imaging for health screening could be exposing the public to risky levels of radiation, according to agency officials.

Recent advances in computerized tomography (CT) technology have increased the efficiency and lowered the price of the scans. The changes have helped spawn a new nationwide industry of unregulated boutique clinics where patients pay $300 to $500 of their own money to get CT scans not for diagnosis, but for regular health screening, officials told an FDA advisory panel Thursday.

The agency is worried that easily available screening with CT has the potential of exposing patients to unhealthy repeat doses of the X-ray radiation the machines use to form images. While FDA evaluates the safety and effectiveness of CT scanners and other medical devices for regular use, it has no power to regulate how those machines are used once they reach doctors offices.

``We don't have dose limits on CT. How the operator uses it is totally out of our control,'' Dr. Thomas B. Shope, a special assistant at FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH), said in an interview with Reuters Health.

Thanks to Reuters Health, May 2001


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