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White-Wilson Medical Center Responds to Recent Studies Regarding CT Scans and Increased Cancer Risk

The benefits of CT Scans still out way potential risks when ordered under necessity and the dosage is calculated appropriately

FORT WALTON BEACH, Florida – December 21, 2009 ––Two studies published in the Archives of Internal Medicine on December 14, 2009, state that the risk of computed tomography (CT) scans appears to be greater than previously believed and that there are increased cancer cases and deaths caused by the overuse and inappropriate use of CT scans.

In response to the studies, the American College of Radiology published a news release which notes that no published studies show that radiation from imaging exams causes cancer and that the conclusions of the authors of the Archives’ studies rely largely on data which equates radiation exposure and effects experienced by atomic bomb survivors in Japan to present day patients who receive CT scans. 

It is important to note that most CT scans are performed in a controlled setting resulting in limited radiation exposure to an isolated portion of the body while atomic bomb survivors experienced instantaneous exposure to the whole body. Additionally, CT scans expose patients solely to X-rays while atomic blast survivors were exposed to X-rays, particulate radiations, neutrons, and other radioactive materials. Obviously the known biological effects are very different for these two scenarios and while we should be weary of radiation exposure from CT scans, cancer assumptions based on this paradigm should not be accepted as medical fact. 

That being said, an imaging exam should never be performed unless there is a clear medical benefit that outweighs any associated risk. Additional evidence supports that medical imaging exams are directly linked to greater life expectancy and declines in cancer mortality rates. Widespread use, however, has lead to increased radiation exposure for Americans.

“It is important for patients to consider why their physician has ordered a CT scan,” said Dr. Karl Metz, Board Certified Gynecologist at White-Wilson Medical Center. “If a physician orders a CT scan it should be out of necessity and because the physician believes that the health benefits will far outweigh the risk.”

Before proceeding with a CT scan patients should ask their physician the following questions: 

1. Why do I need this exam and how will it improve my health?
2. Are there alternatives to this exam that do not require radiation?
3. Is the Imaging facility accredited by the American College of Radiology (ACR)?
4. Is a pediatric radiation dose being given to my child? 

“White-Wilson Imaging Department’s number one priority is and always will be patient safety and quality,” said Susan Shea, director of Ancillary Services for White-Wilson Medical Center. “We take patient quality and radiation exposure very seriously. We voluntarily achieved accreditation by the American College of Radiology for all of our imaging modalities for this reason. Each of our CT technologists holds an advanced certification in CT from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologist. In addition, our Siemens Definition AS 64 CT Scanner has more radiation dose control software and hardware than any other system on the market. Even if the data provided in the studies published in the Archives of Internal Medicine is accurate, the overall risk from CT scan radiation exposure is still quite small when compared to the immediate, proven life saving benefits of the exam.” 

According to White-Wilson Internal Medicine physician, Dr. Thomas Holt, “CT scans are increasingly valuable tests for a wide range of medical conditions, from trauma to cancer, and they help diagnose and treat every patient more quickly and accurately. While radiation exposure is a serious concern, the key is to avoid excessive or unnecessary exposure.” 

In short, the benefits of CT Scans still out way potential risks when ordered under necessity and the dosage is calculated appropriately.

About White-Wilson Medical Center:
White-Wilson Medical Center is one of the largest multi-specialty out-patient physician groups on Florida's Emerald Coast. With over 20 different specialties, ranging from neurosurgery to pediatrics, White-Wilson provides patients with coordinated healthcare services and the convenience of one medical record and one location for most of your healthcare needs. White-Wilson is home to over 70 providers and offers multiple locations throughout Fort Walton Beach, Destin and Niceville. White-Wilson employs state-of-the-art technology, coupled with skilled and experienced providers, friendly and caring staff, and the convenience of "one-stop" shopping. Visit www.white-wilson.com for a list of specialties and services. 

Fort Walton Beach 850.863.8100   |   Destin 850.269.6400   |   Niceville 850.897.4400

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