Knowledge of medical imaging radiation dose and risk among doctors.

Research paper by Nicholas N Brown, Lee L Jones

Indexed on: 05 Feb '13Published on: 05 Feb '13Published in: Journal of Medical Imaging and Radiation Oncology


The growth of computed tomography (CT) and nuclear medicine (NM) scans has revolutionised healthcare but also greatly increased population radiation doses. Overuse of diagnostic radiation is becoming a feature of medical practice, leading to possible unnecessary radiation exposures and lifetime-risks of developing cancer. Doctors across all medical specialties and experience levels were surveyed to determine their knowledge of radiation doses and potential risks associated with some diagnostic imaging.A survey relating to knowledge and understanding of medical imaging radiation was distributed to doctors at 14 major Queensland public hospitals, as well as fellows and trainees in radiology, emergency medicine and general practice.From 608 valid responses, only 17.3% correctly estimated the radiation dose from CT scans and almost 1 in 10 incorrectly believed that CT radiation is not associated with any increased lifetime risk of developing cancer. There is a strong inverse relationship between a clinician's experience and their knowledge of CT radiation dose and risks, even among radiologists. More than a third (35.7%) of doctors incorrectly believed that typical NM imaging either does not use ionising radiation or emits doses equal to or less than a standard chest radiograph.Knowledge of CT and NM radiation doses is poor across all specialties, and there is a significant inverse relationship between experience and awareness of CT dose and risk. Despite having a poor understanding of these concepts, most doctors claim to consider them prior to requesting scans and when discussing potential risks with patients.