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RSNA: Many Abdominal/Pelvic CT Scans May Not Be Needed

Last Updated: December 01, 2009.

More than one-third of abdominal/pelvic computed tomography imaging studies are unindicated and unnecessarily expose patients to potentially hazardous excess radiation, according to research presented this week at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, held from Nov. 29 to Dec. 4 in Chicago.

TUESDAY, Dec. 1 (HealthDay News) -- More than one-third of abdominal/pelvic computed tomography (CT) imaging studies are unindicated and unnecessarily expose patients to potentially hazardous excess radiation, according to research presented this week at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, held from Nov. 29 to Dec. 4 in Chicago.

Kristie Guite, M.D., of the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and colleagues used the American College of Radiology's appropriateness criteria to review 978 CT series from 500 patients aged 9 months to 91 years which were performed at outside institutions and submitted to the university for interpretation.

The researchers found that 345 (35.3 percent) of the CT series in 261 (52.2 percent) of the patients were unindicated, and that delayed-phase imaging accounted for 268 (77.7 percent) of the unnecessary series. They also calculated that the unnecessary scans exposed patients to a mean excess radiation dose of 11.3 mSv, which equates to 113 chest X-rays or three years of naturally occurring background radiation.

"The practice of adding unindicated non-contrast and delayed series to abdominal/pelvic CT examinations appears common in routine clinical practice, and represents a potential public health danger with no associated clinical benefit," the authors conclude.

One author reported financial relationships with NeuWave Medical Inc. and Covidien AG.

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