New Medical Imaging Software Reduces Radiation Exposure in Children


Young Child with Medical Imaging Professional

The use of computerized tomography (CT) has become a concern for doctors and parents of small children because this type of medical imaging exam requires higher doses of radiation. The good news is that new medical imaging software, developed and currently in use only at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, allows doctors to more tightly control radiation doses.

The medical imaging software mathematically determines the lowest possible radiation dose for the patient before a scan is performed, according to David Larson, MD, Radiology Quality and Safety Director at the medical center and principal architect of the technology. Two studies were published recently in the journal Radiology and reported on in, regarding this new technology which showed a 37 percent reduction of radiation exposure from CT scans in children.

Considering that a typical medical imaging exam produces 500 times more radiation than X-rays, this figure represents a giant leap in patient safety, particularly for children who are at risk of extreme doses. Larson believes, however, that the new system can have a broad-scale impact on how CT scans are performed in general. Although the approach was developed in pediatrics, it is also applicable to adults, he said.

“Image quality depends on patient size, not patient age,” Larson said. “Fifty-eight percent of the examinations in our study were of adult-sized patients.”

Up until now, radiologists relied on trial-and-error in determining the optimal CT radiation dose. This medical imaging software allows the medical imaging professional to give a precise dose and also receive a quality image. Modern CT scanners, while able to adjust the dose based on the size of the patient, do not always adjust to the medical imaging attributes radiologists need.

“This way we can not only specify what image quality and dose are appropriate, but we can also predict the scanner settings needed to achieve those levels,” said Dr. Larson.

What do you think might be the broader implications of this new medical imaging software?

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