Although diagnostic imaging is an integral part of the modern practice of medicine, the benefits have to be constantly balanced with the inherent radiation risks of certain types of imaging.
Specifically, potentially harmful radiation exposure may occur with CT, X-ray and nuclear imaging. At RAF, we take a multi-pronged approach to minimizing patients’ exposure to radiation. Imaging utilization, advanced technology and low-dose protocols each play a vital role in our radiation reduction efforts. CT scans can be a significant source of medical radiation exposure in diagnostic imaging. Whenever possible, RAF utilization management teams will work with ordering physicians to redirect imaging to a non-ionizing modality, such as ultrasound or MRI.
When a CT scan, X-ray or nuclear imaging is determined to be the most appropriate test, we follow the ALARA (as low as reasonably achievable) principle to minimize the amount of radiation necessary to provide diagnostic information. This includes limiting CT scan protocols to a single phase when possible.
All of our CT scanners are state-of-the-art with integrated dose reduction technology. This includes tube current modulation, which uses computer algorithms to adjust the current and radiation dose based on attenuation of the area being imaged. For cardiac CT, we use a prospective ECG-gating technique that dramatically lowers radiation exposure, achieving the lowest possible dose for coronary CT that is approximately 80% lower than a diagnostic cardiac catheterization. RAF uses carefully crafted protocols for all CT imaging to achieve maximum diagnostic benefit with the lowest possible radiation exposure.