UCSF Leading Effort to Record, Lower CT Doses

The American College of Radiology (ACR) has launched a CT Dose Index Registry in an effort to broaden patients’ protection from excessive radiation, according to an article on HealthImaging.com. The registry allows facilities to “track their radiation doses from CT and gauge their emitted doses against other institutions.”

One of the simplest ways to control radiation dose is to begin reporting those doses. As the saying goes, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” So at the Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging, we’ve taken a proactive stance on the issue. California state law will require dose reporting in 2012, and at this time we are well ahead of that requirement. Specifically, our department has already been recording doses for all our abdominal and pediatric CT scans. What we're working towards is having techs check and record the dose both before they take the image – when the machine displays what dose it thinks it will deliver – and afterwards, when the machine displays the dose it really did deliver.

Our Department Chairman, Dr. Ronald Arenson, recently had this to say about our efforts: “I am very proud that our department has taken a leadership role in disclosing the excesses in radiation across the country that have been reported and substantially reducing the radiation from CT procedures at UCSF. In fact, our department started doing so long before much attention was drawn to this issue.”

Indeed, we’ve long been making the effort to implement – and champion – lower-dose protocols. Now we need to find better ways of using raw data (like recorded doses, for example) to lower the doses of CT scans in medical institutions and imaging centers everywhere. Having a national registry, like the one launched by the ACR, is a good first step.