Dose discussion dominates headlines

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The most high profile research to be published in the past week was the study of CT radiation dose risks for children and young adults appearing in The Lancet. While the results were interesting, the healthcare community's response was intriguing it its own right.

You know a study has struck a nerve when numerous professional societies feel compelled to issue a statement regarding the results.

Researchers demonstrated that children and young adults receiving two or three head CT scans had about three times the risk of developing brain cancer, while five to 10 scans tripled the risk of leukemia. Based on increased risk per extra mGy received, the authors said there would be one excess case of leukemia for every 10,000 people under 20 years old receiving 10 mGy from a CT scan. There would be one excess case of brain cancer for every 30,000 such patients.

Far from sounding the alarm about CT tripling the risk of certain cancers, the authors stressed that the immediate benefits of CT outweighed the potential long term risks and praised ongoing dose reduction initiatives. Both the American College of Radiology (ACR) and the Medical Imaging and Technology Alliance issued statements which stressed the value of imaging while also acknowledging the importance of understanding risks. The ACR even directly urged parents not to deny their children needed medical imaging care based on The Lancet study.

It will be fascinating to see how the dose discussion evolves from here.

There were, of course, other headlines which captured interest this week, including a story about the demand in the healthcare informatics job market and the fallout of an investigation at the University of Missouri Health System. These stories, and more, can be found in this week’s Best Of newsletter.

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Evan Godt, staff writer