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Point and Counterpoint |

POINT: Should Radiation Dose From CT Scans Be a Factor in Patient Care? YesRadiation Dose a Factor in Patient Care? Yes

Robert J. McCunney, MD, MPH
Author and Funding Information

From Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

CORRESPONDENCE TO: Robert J. McCunney, MD, MPH, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, 75 Francis St, Boston, MA 02215; e-mail: mccunney@mit.edu


FINANCIAL/NONFINANCIAL DISCLOSURES: The author has reported to CHEST that no potential conflicts of interest exist with any companies/organizations whose products or services may be discussed in this article.

Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians. See online for more details.


Chest. 2015;147(4):872-874. doi:10.1378/chest.14-3020
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Extract

How radiation from a CT scan should be considered in patient care depends upon the circumstances in which the test is conducted. Ionizing radiation, the adverse health effects from which are cumulative, should be minimized but used when appropriate.

Chest CT scans are used primarily for diagnostic purposes but also for monitoring disease and screening for asymptomatic disease. The challenge regarding radiation risks is to address the purpose of the CT scan. In evaluating pulmonary embolism, chest injuries, and other life-threatening conditions, radiation exposure is a trivial factor. In evaluating hemoptysis, chronic shortness of breath, and symptoms that may reflect malignancies, radiation exposure needs to yield to obtaining important diagnostic information. In screening for lung cancer, however, radiation exposure should be considered in evaluating benefits and risks of the CT scan.

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