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Imaging Services - CT Scan and Radiation Safety

CT Scan (CAT Scan) is a valuable, non-invasive diagnostic tool in today’s healthcare environment. CT scans allows physicians to see "inside" the body in order to diagnose and treat a wide variety of conditions.  Indeed there have arguably been no greater advancements in the entire field of medicine within the last 50 years than the development of CT imaging.  
 
As with all medical procedures, CT scan carries both risks and benefits.  It allows physicians to diagnose diseases or to monitor patient’s progress while on therapy.  However, CT scans also involve exposure to radiation.
 
Recently, there have been articles in the press regarding the high dose of radiation received by patients through overuse of CT scan in general as well as a specific exam called a Perfusion CT scan of the brain.
 
Perfusion CT scan.  This type of CT scan is used to help diagnose stroke and involves repeated scanning in the same area in order to evaluate blood flow to that part of the brain.  Sibley Hospital does not perform this procedure.  If you have had CT imaging of the brain at Sibley, you need not worry that you have had excessive radiation exposure.
 
Like all other hospitals, Sibley does perform CT scan of the brain for stroke evaluation but this is not a Perfusion CT scan of the brain and does not have the higher exposure to radiation seen in the Perfusion CT scan.
 
Radiation safety has always been a concern throughout Sibley Memorial hospital, not just in the CT suite.  All of our diagnostic CT scanners are accredited by the American College of Radiology (ACR) and we have an active ALARA (As Low As Reasonably Achievable) program in the hospital.  
 
Some specific dose reductions strategies employed at Sibley are:
 
1. ACR Accreditation.  This accreditation assures that the department is staffed with trained personnel, equipment is properly maintained and that protocols are in keeping with current practice producing the lowest exposure in order to acquire a diagnostic image.
 
2. Annual Physics Certification.  All radiation producing equipment at Sibley is evaluated annually by a health physicist.  This is required by DC law in order to ensure proper functioning according to the manufactures specifications. 
 
3. Regular preventive maintenance is performed on all of our scanners to ensure that they are accurately calibrated and function at their peak efficiency
 
4. Specifically designed protocols for pediatric patients.  Since children have much smaller bodies, less radiation is required to produce diagnostic images.  All of our scanners have protocols designed specially for our younger patients.
 

 
 
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