Carmel, CA Some CT Scans May Be Unnecessary Causing Overexposure To Radiation : View From A Private Duty Caregiverby Richard Kuehn on 07/30/12
A recent study found that CT scans which are being done when you're having chest pains in order to rule out a heart attack prompted more tests and questionable treatments. They also gave high doses of radiation to people that had such a low risk of having a heart attack they probably didn't need any tests done at all. "There is no evidence that adding these tests saved lives or found more heart attacks," Dr. Rita Redberg, a cardiologist at UC San Francisco wrote in an editorial. Her note accompanied the study which was published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine and pointed to the long-term risk of cancer which may be caused by all of this radiation exposure. More than 90% of the 6 million people per year that enter the hospital with chest pains end up being diagnosed with indigestion, stress, muscle strain or some other problem. But understandably, doctors are afraid of missing the ones who may be having a heart attack and they are increasingly ordering CT scans, a type of X-ray with an injected dye to get detailed views of the patients arteries. There are other options like treadmill tests which don't involve radiation. If you or a loved one suffer from chest pain, discuss the issue in depth with your physician and tell him or her any concerns you may have regarding excess radiation exposure. Some people just go with the flow and don't interact much with the hospital nurses and physicians, which can sometimes result in a battery of tests being done, some of which may not be necessary. In this recent research project, those given CT scans ended up with about 14 millisieverts of radiation versus less than 5 for the others. "Exposures of 10 millisieverts have been projected to lead to 1 death from cancer per 2,000 persons, Redberg wrote in her article. Those are extremely high odds, so patients need to carefully consider the risk/rewards ratio when deciding whether to have tests run which involve these massive doses of radiation.