Radiation Exposure and Risks from Medical Imaging

Man Yu Chen


Medical imaging has made remarkable advances in the past three or four decades.  It has become an effective tool in disease diagnosis, assessment as well as treatment monitoring.  It offers many benefits such as early disease detection, replacement of invasive surgical procedures, and better diagnosis and treatment monitoring of cancer.  With steadily increasing use of ionization radiation in medical imaging in recent years, there were a series of events and publications in both medical journals as well as lay press that drew attention to the topic of potential cancer risks associated with radiation exposure from medical imaging. With increased awareness, communicating and educating patients and families on the benefit and risks of radiation has become an important part of a health care provider’s roles and responsibilities.  This article is intended to serve as a guide for health care providers to understand radiation exposure and risks from medical imaging and measures that can be taken to appropriately select the right diagnostic exam for the right patient at the right dose.  In addition, it is also intended to help health care providers to understand concerns from patients and strategies that can be utilized to effectively communicate benefit and risks associated with medical imaging with patients and alleviate their concerns.  The goal is to increase awareness among health care providers and to promote development and implementation of processes that ensure imaging is only used when the potential benefit far outweighs the potential risks, and the dose is kept as low as reasonably achievable.   


radiation exposure, radiation risk, medical imaging

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18103/imr.v3i9.555


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