Imaging tests provide immeasurable health benefits. They find a wide range of diseases at an early stage, help doctors make the right diagnoses, and allow patients to avoid unnecessary medical procedures. Their benefits far outweigh any risks. We take patient safety very seriously and use the lowest dose of radiation possible to achieve high-quality images.
About radiation exposure
All of us are exposed to some background radiation just by going about our daily lives. This low-level exposure to radiation is generally considered safe. Some imaging procedures provide additional exposure to radiation. For most people, occasional imaging procedures throughout their lifetime won’t be an issue, but doctors must balance the valuable medical information from these procedures against the slightly increased risk that too much radiation may cause.
Some imaging tests, such as MRI and ultrasound, involve no radiation, while others, such as X-rays, CT scans, mammograms, fluoroscopy, and nuclear medicine, do expose you to small amounts of radiation. The amount of radiation varies from test to test and depends on a number of other factors, including your weight, the number of “views” taken, the equipment, and the imaging facility’s procedures. Most X-rays, including mammograms and bone density tests, have very small amounts of radiation. Despite recent media reports, radiation exposure to the thyroid from mammograms is extremely low.
Steps we take to minimize radiation
We strive to perform only tests that are necessary and to use just enough radiation doses to provide a high-quality image to help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis. Here are a few examples of how we keep your radiation exposure to a minimum when you have a CT scan, X-ray or other test involving radiation:
We work with your doctor to make sure your test is necessary and appropriate. If we have any questions about a procedure your doctor ordered, we may call him or her, and, when appropriate, we may suggest a way to get good test results with less radiation dose. · We adhere to the American College of Radiology’s recommendations to Image Gently whenever children receive an imaging procedure, meaning that we are especially careful to keep their radiation doses low. All sites are ACR-accredited in pediatric procedures.
- We carefully adjust the amount of radiation to make it optimal for your weight and age, and we have special software that adjusts the dose to match the thickness of each section that is imaged on a CT scan.
- We use special breast shields for children and pre-menopausal women when doing a chest X-ray, to prevent radiation to the breast area.
- We use special shields for your eyes and your thyroid when applicable, to prevent radiation to these parts of the body.
- Radiation health physicists inspect our equipment and facilities at least once a year to confirm that we are standards-compliant. As a result, all of our centers are accredited for adult procedures by the American College of Radiology (ACR), a national organization that sets the standards for medical radiation procedures in the U.S.
Find out more radiation safety
About our participation in campaigns initiated by imaging industry groups like the American College of Radiology and the Radiological Society of North America.