Medical sources of radiation include traditional X-rays, CT scans, mammography and molecular imaging used in nuclear medicine. (CBC/file)

Radiation from medical tests studied for safety

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McMaster University is working on a campaign to make sure Canadians don’t get too much radiation through medical imaging. Excess exposure to radiation can cause cancer. While a single imaging event emits very little radiation, people may have several bouts of imaging and may worry about their cumulative effect.

Sources of ionizing radiation in medical imaging are X-rays, computed tomography (CT), mammography and molecular imaging used in nuclear medicine. There is no ionizing radiation emitted during magnetic resonance imaging ( MRI) and ultrasound imaging.

Jane Castelli and David Koff are members of McMaster University developing a Canadian strategy on radiation safety in medical imaging. (McMaster University)

Toll-free telephone service answers questions

This initiative, called Canada Safe Imaging, has worked with others to set up a toll-free telephone line for patients and health professionals with questions about radiation and imaging. The number for English-speakers is 1 800 263-5803 and is available weekdays from 9am to 5 pm. French-speakers must leave a message with their question and a call back number.

Work is proceeding to develop a universal document of frequently answered questions for the general public and health professionals. And there is currently a study of available data to see how much radiation is too much.

Medical radiation an international concern

This initiative was launched as part of an international movement to promote radiation safety in medicine. Participants hope to evolve a national strategy and action plan to make sure Canadians do not receive too much radiation during medical imaging.

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One comment on “Radiation from medical tests studied for safety
  1. Over the years, numerous advances in computed tomography (CT) imaging, such as the incorporation of new iterative reconstruction algorithms and features such as DICOM Dose Structured Reporting, have made it possible to dramatically lower radiation dose while still yielding high-quality images that help detect and diagnose disease.