JACR: U of Colorado launches rad risk smartcard

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The department of radiology at the University of Colorado School Of Medicine in Denver has developed a pocket-sized reference card to communicate the effective doses and radiation risks of common adult imaging studies, according to an update published in the April issue of the Journal of the American College of Radiology.    

“This allows patients to make more informed decisions about the relative risks of radiologic examinations compared with the medical risk caused by refusing a recommended imaging procedure,” wrote R. Edward Hendrick, PhD, clinical professor of radiology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, and colleagues.

Designed to facilitate radiation risk consultations, the card was distributed to radiologists, referring physicians and medical physicists at a one-day symposium.

Most of the data and estimates on the card are derived from the latest report from the International Commission on Radiological Protection, which are age-averaged for adults from ages 18 to 65 years and gender-averaged.

The card allows comparisons of effective doses from imaging studies to natural background radiation levels and categorizes risks of a fatal radiation-induced cancer to compare it with risks of death from other causes.

“The University of Colorado Adult Dose-Risk Smart Card does not attempt to incorporate all of those variations but instead to communicate a representative estimate of effective doses and radiation risks to adults from various radiologic procedures,” Hendricks and colleagues wrote. The authors also reinforced that actual dose and risks may be lower than those on the card given changing protocols and dose reduction efforts.

The overarching goal is “that patients undergoing diagnostic examinations receive the minimum radiation dose needed to yield a medical benefit.”