What can you, the patient, do to find out if your medical facility is complying to the highest standards for radiation dose reduction and safety from CT scanners?
Virtually all US facilities may report use of “Low Dose” software. All CT machines now manufactured and sold in the US are of the helical design and capable of supporting the latest version of Low Dose software. Older CT scanners and earlier versions of software remain problematic at some institutions and I will almost guarantee that your doctor will not know or admit to knowing the status of CT technology at their institution. This is due in part to the number and variety of machines. As one example; At the OSU medical center they have currently 14 CT scanners that will be increasing to 17.
The term “Low Dose” is not specific enough and various manufacturers of CTs are continually leapfrogging better machines into the market for me to recommend a specific machine. “The soul is in the Software” and I believe I have reduced the low dose and safety issues to 4 questions you will want answered in the affirmative the next time you are scanned. Ask the following at the time of your being scheduled or inform your scheduling contact that you need to be assured of the following:
1)Does the scanner use iterative image reconstruction software?
2)Does the Scanner I will be scanned on have kV modulation? kV stands for kilovolt
3)Does the Scanner I will be scanned on have mA modulation? The mA stands for miliampere. Note: One of the basic parameters affecting radiation dose for a smaller patient is in the hands of the CT operator adjusting mAs. For those who have a need to know more about kV & mA - en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Basic...
4)Does the Scanner I will be scanned on have organ-based modulation? scitation.aip.org/content/a... & ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/225... The organ based modulation capability is particularly important if you are a younger patient or plan on living, secondary cancer free, over 20 years after scanning
Not all organs are equally sensitive to radiation and the “organ-based modulation” feature insures lowest radiation to the most radiation sensitive organs, i.e. breast and gonads, eyes and thyroid.
You now have a simple way to find out if the CT scan you are about to get is giving you the lowest reasonable dose of ionizing radiation irrespective of the Brand of CT scanner.
Updates will follow if I learn anything that requires modification of this recommendation.