In recent months, patients that have been administered CT brain perfusion scans, also known as "Stroke Scans", are experiencing hair loss, confusion, memory loss, and headaches as a result of massive radiation overdoses. So far, more than 400 patients have been administered overdoses of radiation while being scanned; some being given up to 13 times the accepted amount. CT brain perfusion scans are used to ascertain information pertaining to blood flow in the brain following a stroke or brain hemorrhage.
In August, I wrote a blog about how patients all over the country were receiving radiation overdoses during CT brain perfusion scans, also known as "Stroke Scans. CT brain perfusion scans are used to ascertain information pertaining to blood flow in the brain following a stroke or brain hemorrhage. Those receiving the scans experienced hair loss, confusion, memory loss, and headaches. So far, more than 400 patients have received overdoses of radiation while being scanned with some being given up to 13 times the accepted amount.
However, there are ways that you can reduce the amount of radiation that you receive. In the past few weeks, New York State's Health Commissioner, Dr. Richard Daines, and Director of the Health Department’s Center for Environmental Health ordered that a mailer be sent out to 16,000 New York pediatricians and other physicians on "how to combat the growing public health problem of patient medical radiation exposure from CT scans". According to a Times Union article on the mailer, "How to limit patients' exposure to radiation" by Dr. Robert J. Rapoport, it contained information about the "Image Gently" campaign. The national campaign is aimed at decreasing the amount of exposure that children receive from CT Scans and advocates for the use a record-keeping card to track CT exams that would be given to any patient receiving a CT scan. There is also another national campaign called "Image Wisely" that is aimed at reducing the amount of radiation that adults receive during diagnostic scans.
According to Dr. Rapoport and the Department of Health, there are a number of ways to reduce your radiation exposure:
First, talk with your physician to determine if testing is truly needed. If so, can it be done with MRI or ultrasound (no radiation)? (passage quoted directly from The Times Union, Robert J. Rapoport, "How to limit patients' exposure to radiation", 9/28/2010)..
Like Dr. Rapoport, I applaud the Department of Health's new mailer and am excited by the "Image Gently" campaign. I am also excited by the local efforts happening right here in the Capital Region to combat radiation overdoses. A committee was formed a number of years ago by the CEO of CDPHP, a local private medical insurer, to address the large amounts of unnecessary radiation from CT scans. According to The Times Union, the committee is made up of medical directors of CDPHP, MVP and Blue Shield, local radiologists and local emergency physicians. The committee has helped to drastically reduce the amount of radiation that patients have received through campaigns that increased public awareness of the problem. Lastly, I applaud Dr. Rapoport on a job well done for his informative and well-written article that will hopefully help the public to learn how to reduce the amount of harmful radiation they receive.
Second, ensure the CT machine is accredited by the American College of Radiology or Intersociety Committee on Accreditation of CT Labs. These are "Good Housekeeping" seals of approval.
Third, particularly with children, make sure that the facility participates in the Image Gently campaign. This ensures the radiologists are using the minimum radiation to obtain a diagnosis.
Finally, keep track of CT exams that you and your family undergo. Bring a tracking card with you to your doctor visits. Cards are available at http://www.imagegently.org