Feature | September 29, 2014

AHA Says Radiation Risks Should be Considered Before Heart Imaging

AHA Says Radiation Risks Should be Considered Before Heart Imaging

September 29, 2014 — Before undergoing cardiac imaging procedures involving radiation, healthcare providers should help patients understand why the procedure is needed and its potential benefits and risks, including risks related to radiation exposure, according to a new scientific statement in the American Heart Association's (AHA) journal Circulation.

"With technological improvements, medical imaging has become an increasingly vital tool in diagnosing and treating patients with heart disease, but the rising use of the tests has led to increasing radiation exposure over the past two decades," said Reza Fazel, M.D., M.Sc., chair of the writing committee for the statement and cardiologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. "Heart imaging procedures account for almost 40 percent of the radiation exposure from medical imaging."

Effective communication between patients and healthcare providers is important, especially among patients who may have an overstated fear of radiation. The statement recommends that before moving forward with an imaging test that uses radiation, clinicians should initiate a discussion with patients to address their questions and concerns, and openly discuss questions such as:

  • How will the test help diagnose or treat your/my heart problem?
  • Are there other techniques to get the information without using radiation?
  • How much radiation will you be exposed to?
  • How could that affect your chance of developing cancer later in life, and how does that compare to the risk from other common activities?

"In general, the radiation-related risk of any imaging test to an individual patient is very small and, when the test is clinically appropriate, the benefits of the test typically far outweigh any potential risks," Fazel said.

With the exception of mammography, there is no federal regulation of radiation dose for medical tests, leaving the appropriate use of heart imaging in the hands of clinicians and imaging facilities. In 2009, the AHA called for judicious use of the tests and gave general recommendations for their use. The current statement builds on that advisory by providing practical recommendations for enhancing radiation safety in heart imaging. The new statement also provides guidance for training professionals who order or administer cardiac imaging tests.

According to the statement, clinicians ordering imaging tests should understand when each type of test is appropriate, the typical average radiation dose and the potential risks.

"Radiation-related risk is one of the factors that should be considered in the decision to use cardiovascular imaging with ionizing radiation, particularly in younger patients in whom the potential risk of radiation exposure is thought to be higher," Fazel said.

In deciding the best imaging method to use, the clinician should also consider the test's diagnostic accuracy, potential risks, availability, cost and convenience. The most commonly used heart and blood vessel imaging procedures using radiation are nuclear stress tests, cardiac CT (computed tomography) scans, and fluoroscopy. Echocardiography and cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) do not expose patients to ionizing radiation.

Professionals who perform cardiac imaging should have adequate knowledge of contemporary methods of optimizing radiation exposure, which means imaging with the dose of radiation required to obtain high-quality images using best available methods and not significantly more than that. They should also know how to minimize radiation exposure to staff, according to the statement.

For more information: www.circ.ahajournals.org

Related Content

MaxQ AI Launches Accipio Ax Slice-Level Intracranial Hemorrhage Detection
Technology | Computer-Aided Detection Software | May 21, 2019
Medical diagnostic artificial intelligence (AI) company MaxQ AI announced that Accipio Ax will begin shipping in August...
AI Detects Unsuspected Lung Cancer in Radiology Reports, Augments Clinical Follow-up
News | Artificial Intelligence | May 20, 2019
Digital Reasoning announced results from its automated radiology report analytics research. In a series of experiments...
Baylor Scott White Heart Hospital Siemens Flash CT system used for dedicated cardiac CT scans, CCTA, CTA.
360 Photos | CT Angiography (CTA) | May 20, 2019
This is a 360 degree photo of a Siemens Somatom Force 64-slice, dual-source computed tomography (CT) system installed
360 Photos | Angiography | May 17, 2019
This is a view inside one of the 11 cath labs at ...
New Study Evaluates Head CT Examinations and Patient Complexity
News | Neuro Imaging | May 17, 2019
Computed tomography (CT) of the head uses special X-ray equipment to help assess head injuries, dizziness and other...
FDA Clears Aidoc's AI Solution for Flagging Pulmonary Embolism
Technology | Artificial Intelligence | May 15, 2019
Artificial intelligence (AI) solutions provider Aidoc has been granted U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)...
Gorilla Undergoes Follow-up CT Scan at Boston's Franklin Park Zoo

Gigi, a western lowland gorilla at Fanklin Park Zoo (Boston), recently underwent a computed tomography (CT) scan as part of efforts to identify the cause of ongoing health issues in recent months. Image courtesy of Zoo New England

News | Computed Tomography (CT) | May 06, 2019
Gigi, a western lowland gorilla, was recently put under anesthesia at Franklin Park Zoo (Boston) so the zoo’s...
Aidoc Raises $27 Million in Series B Funding
News | Artificial Intelligence | May 02, 2019
Radiology artificial intelligence (AI) solutions provider Aidoc announced a $27 million investment, bringing its total...
Canon Medical Installs First CT Scanner With AI in Belgium
News | Computed Tomography (CT) | May 02, 2019
May 2, 2019 — Canon Medical has installed the Aquilion One Genesis, one of the first...