Oaklawn Hospital proactive in reducing CT scan radiation levels

Oaklawn Hospital proactive in reducing CT scan radiation levels

                                           by Amber Herman, R.T.R.(CT),B.A.(FLE)


      With the recent public focus on radiation dose received by patients undergoing CT scans, Oaklawn Hospital would like the public to be aware of their commitment to providing the safest possible CT scans. In April 2009, the hospital’s CT scanner became accredited through the American College of Radiology (ACR). The process consisted of stringent standards being met in image quality, exam performance, and dose management, and the scanner’s median dose factor level of 24.82 mGy conformed with the ACR’s requirement of 25, but Oaklawn sought to reduce its levels further.        

      In 2010 Oaklawn Radiation Safety Officer and radiologist James Timmons, MD, PhD, did a thorough evaluation in an effort to assure that the equipment was utilizing the lowest effective radiation dose.  By adjusting the amperage and voltage on the scanner Oaklawn was able to reduce the amount of x-ray used and the intensity of its delivery, resulting in a 44% reductionof radiation dose (to a reading of 13.92 mGy) with virtually no loss in the quality of images produced.

      In January 2011, Oaklawn took another major step in radiation level reduction when it installed a new low-dose 64-slice CT scanner that has a median radiation dose factor of 11.66 mGy, a 53% reduction in radiation dose from its 2009 accredited level.  “We believe the GE LightSpeed VCTscanner is the lowest dose scanner in the area,” said Rick Johnson, R.T.(R),Oaklawn’s Director of Radiology.  “Our dosage levels are less than half what the American College of Radiology allows.”

      The LightSpeed VCT system’s dose reduction is achieved in a variety of methods.  First and foremost is GE’s exclusive ASiR technology, a high-definition reconstruction software that requires less radiation to reconstruct the image.  The scanner also incorporates Z-axiscollimation, which gives it the ability to start the radiation exposure at exactly the location needed; SmartScan,which automatically adjusts the amount of radiation needed based upon which area of the body is being scanned; and HiLightdetector, a 99% efficient x-ray detector.


(pictured) Amber Herman, Oaklawn CT scan technologist, is proud of the exceptionally low radiation dose levels and sharp imaging that the new CT scanner produces.

Another GE feature of this scanner is Color-Coding for Kids.  This utilizes a set of scanning protocol parameters that are sensitive to the child’s specific weight, body size, and type of tissues being scanned.  All of these features combine to keep Oaklawn’s CT radiation dosage levels at minimal levels while still producing the highly detailed images that physicians need for accurate diagnoses.

      “We take great pride in our commitment to safe and accurate diagnostics at Oaklawn,” Johnson added, “but having state-of-the-art equipment is only part of the equation.  Each of our CT technologists are registered and credentialed through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists, the national licensing organization for radiologic technologists, assuring our patients that they’ve had the proper amount of specialty training in dose reduction, protocol management, and pediatric scanning.  Our technologists also utilize additional dose reduction procedures by bismuth-shielding of breast tissue for CT scans that include the chest area.” 

      Further information on radiation dosage and reduction may be found online at radiologyinfo.org, imagewisely.com, and pedrad.org, or by calling the Oaklawn Hospital CT Department at (269) 781-4271, ext. 3445.

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