Knowledge of Risks From Imaging Radiation Has Room For Improvement Interview with:

David Leswick MD FRCPC Radiologist Saskatoon Health Region and the University of Saskatchewan

Dr. David Leswick

David Leswick MD FRCPC
Radiologist Saskatoon Health Region and the
University of Saskatchewan What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The background for this study is that the use of computed tomography (CT) is increasing, and there is a significant radiation dose imparted to the population through imaging. There have been multiple prior studies showing limited knowledge of both dose levels and its associated risk from medical imaging procedures, and we wanted to evaluate local knowledge in our Health Region. We surveyed a total of 308 health care providers, including 217 referring physicians, 32 radiologists and 59 technologists. Overall, most respondents were aware of the risk of malignancy from CT, with only 23% of physicians, 3% of radiologists, and 25% of technologists believing there was no increased risk of malignancy from a single CT scan. Underestimating radiation dose levels from a procedure is more concerning than overestimating as it may lead to minimization of the perceived risk. Although relatively few respondents (20%) selected the most appropriate dose estimate for an abdominal CT scan in chest x-ray equivalents, the majority (54%) correctly or overestimated dose, with better knowledge amongst radiologists and imaging technologists than referring physicians. In general, respondents were appropriately more concerned regarding radiation dose when imaging pregnant and pediatric patients as risks from radiation are higher in those groups of patients. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Although the demonstrated knowledge regarding radiation doses and risks has room for improvement, it is better than that seen in several prior studies from other centers. If health care providers have questions about imaging tests, there are excellent on-line resources that can be used to provide information and help select the most appropriate test. Also, knowledge of doses and risks tended to be better amongst radiologists. Radiologists should be viewed as consultants if health care providers have questions about imaging studies and their associated risks. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Education regarding dose levels and risks is certainly needed. However, what would be more interesting is further evaluation of how this knowledge translates to selection of imaging tests for patients in a real world scenario. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: The imaging community is working to reduce radiation dose levels and risk to patients in multiple ways including:

  • education about risks,
  • modifying protocols,
  • evolving technology, and
  • ensuring that patients receive the most¬†appropriate tests.¬† Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Knowing the Enemy: Health Care Provider Knowledge of Computed Tomography Radiation Dose and Associated Risks
Irving, Breanne et al.
Journal of Medical Imaging and Radiation Sciences , Volume 0 , Issue 0
June 22 2016

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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Last Updated on July 3, 2016 by Marie Benz MD FAAD