Are your patients aware of spinal imaging radiation exposure? 7 observations

Written by Megan Wood | February 13, 2017 | Print  |

Rush University Medical Center researchers investigated patients' knowledge of radiation exposure from spinal imaging, in a study published in The Spine Journal.

The study involved 100 patients attending their first visit with one spine surgeon. The researchers compared the actual dose of radiation from spinal imaging modalities with patients' perceptions. Patients estimated how many "chest X-rays worth of radiation were equivalent to various common spinal imaging modalities," according to the study abstract.


Here are seven observations:


1. Patients estimated a median of 3.5 CXRs of radiation correlated with two views of the cervical spine. This estimation compared closely with the actual value of 4.7 CXRs.


2. Patients' estimation of two CXRs for CT scans of the cervical spine was much farther off, however, with the actual dose valuing 145.3 CXRs.


3. While actual dose of radiation for two views of the lumbar spine equals 123.3 CXRs, patients guessed the dose was similar to that of three CXRs.


4. In terms of the lumbar spine CT scans, patients guessed 2 CXRs of radiation compared to the actual 638.3 CXRs.


5. Most patients assumed MRIs exposed them to some radiation.


6. The following percentage of patients reported they would opt out of recommended imaging due to radiation concerns:


• X-rays: 14 percent
• CT scans: 13 percent
• MRI: 9 percent


7. The researchers concluded the majority of patients are not aware of the actual radiation exposure associated with certain spinal imaging. They suggest providers offer more counseling or educational materials.


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