Radiation Safety Information for Patients

South Texas Radiology Imaging Centers

Background Information

Recently a number of reports in the media have raised public awareness of radiation exposure in medical imaging. It is important to put everything in perspective before drawing a conclusion that may not be in your best interest as a patient.

Over the past twenty years, enormous advances in diagnostic and interventional imaging have occurred. For example, the use of sophisticated CT imaging has nearly eliminated the need for exploratory surgery in patients with unexplained symptoms. Today, most patients do not undergo surgery without the surgeon having a good idea of what he/she will find allowing the surgeon to tailor the operation to a patient’s specific problem. When ordering an imaging study, your physician weighs the risk of medically necessary radiation exposure against the benefit of potentially making or excluding a diagnosis without the need for surgery or some other invasive procedure.

It is important for you to receive the appropriate study for your particular problem. As a patient, when you undergo an exam you expect it to be performed safely with associated risks and complications kept to a minimum and well within expected parameters.

The American College of Radiology has developed guidelines for imaging protocols which contain well accepted dose ranges for medically responsible imaging. Therefore, if you need a CT scan you have the confidence that it is being performed safely and within medically accepted guidelines for radiation dose. It is important to understand that declining to undergo a study performed with radiation that was ordered by your physician actually may be riskier to your health, since a critical lesion might never be discovered.

STRIC subscribes to the ALARA principle of always performing an exam with a radiation dose “As Low As Reasonably Achievable.” We also follow the Image Gently guidelines. Furthermore, we use the information provided to us by your physician to perform the most appropriate test for your clinical presentation.

All STRIC imaging equipment that utilizes ionizing radiation is inspected regularly for safety by licensed radiation physicists to assure that it is operating within the manufacturer’s technical specifications. Operation and Safety Procedures developed jointly by equipment vendors, administration and radiologists ensure that STRIC follows best safety practices. Safe facility design is implemented at each location to protect workers, patients, close proximity individuals, and the general populace. Natural background radiation is naturally occurring environmental radiation that everyone receives just by living on planet Earth. Background radiation includes normal cosmic rays, radon, altitude exposure, etc.

Please click here to review common effective radiation doses for medically indicated imaging exams so you can compare them to the background radiation exposure you are likely to receive from the environment. Hopefully, this will help put things in perspective.