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New X-ray Approaches cut Radiation by Half

Thursday, 23 August 2012 09:22 AM

Mayo Clinic cardiologists have devised a new program for administering X-rays that dramatically cuts patient radiation exposure.
The novel approach – combining simple changes to equipment, more targeted use of X-rays and lowered doses of radiation when low-resolution images will suffice – can reduce radiation doses by almost 50 percent, the Mayo doctors reported in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Cardiovascular Interventions.
Dr. Charanjit Rihal, chair of Mayo's Division of Cardiovascular Diseases, said the program could set a new standard for practices at other radiology departments across the country.
“Through our efforts, we were able to quickly cut the overall radiation exposure to patients by nearly half using simple but effective methods," said Rihal. "We think this program could serve as a useful model for other cath labs in the U.S."
Mayo researchers noted hundreds of thousands of X-rays are performed in the U.S. each year to help detect and treat common cardiovascular conditions such as coronary artery disease, valve disease and other heart problems. But concerns have been rising about the potential risks of radiation exposure from this imaging technology.
To reduce those risks, the Mayo cardiologists instituted a broad-based program to raise awareness about radiation safety and changed the way standard X-ray systems are used. For instance, medical staff set the radiation output of their systems to a very low setting, minimizing the radiation dose to patients. They only increase the radiation dose if higher-quality images are needed.
In addition, radiation safety is now included in all training programs involving fellows and junior faculty, lab teams are informed of the dose delivered to patients during each procedure, and exposure is routinely reported in the patient's medical record.
"The reductions in the radiation dose administered to patients occurred practice-wide and across diverse procedures," says Kenneth Fetterly, of the Mayo’s Division of Cardiovascular Diseases. Dr. Fetterly says the initiative is part of Mayo's ongoing commitment to patient safety.
For the study, 18,115 procedures at Mayo were performed by 27 staff cardiologists and 65 fellows-in-training over three years to test the new program. Overall, researchers found a 40 percent reduction in radiation exposure to patients on average, with a range of 34 percent to 53 percent, depending on the procedure.
"We need radiation to be able to see what we are doing in a patient, so X-ray imaging has a definite benefit, but excessive doses of radiation can cause problems," said. Rihal. "These are good procedures. We just made them safer."

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Mayo Clinic cardiologists have devised new ways to administer X-rays that cut patient radiation exposure.
Thursday, 23 August 2012 09:22 AM
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