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Radiation exposure from CT scans reduced an average of 40 percent at ETMC Athens

Richard Vasquez is very excited about what’s happening in his department at ETMC Athens. As director of the radiology department, Vasquez is already able to offer patients the very best in cutting-edge equipment, such as 64-slice CT scanners. But the latest triumph is not equipment, but software.

ETMC Athens is one of the first hospitals in the country to begin using CT software that reduces a patient’s level of exposure to radiation by an average of 40 percent -- and in some cases by up to 80 percent -- without a reduction in image quality.

“This is huge,” said Vasquez. “We’re very excited about this. We have two of the first 20 Phillips CT scanners in the nation to be upgraded with this software.”

The software, released by Philips Healthcare, is based on programs and algorithms used by NASA to view images from outer space. Called iDose, it takes raw data generated by a CT scan and reconstructs it, eliminating noise and graininess, in a more efficient way than has ever been possible before.

“We use less radiation and let iDose sharpen the image until it gives us the same quality we would have gotten with a higher does of radiation,” explained Vasquez.

ETMC Athens began using iDose around the first of July. Over the period of a week, data was collected on 43 patients who came in for CT scans and had received CT scans at the hospital in the past. When the patients’ new images were compared to historical images, the radiology team at ETMC Athens found the new images were every bit as good as the older ones, but with an average radiation dose reduction of 40 percent.

The results of the study at ETMC Athens matched the data collected by Philips from the other 19 test hospitals across the nation, signifying careful and accurate data collection. Dose reduction on an individual patient basis is reliant on different factors, such as the part of the body being studied.

“A patient’s exposure to radiation during a CT scan has always been low,” said Vasquez. “But we become more cautious in the case of someone with a chronic illness who requires CT scans more frequently. Reducing radiation exposure by an average of 40 percent each time they get a scan and sometimes by much more than that is a very positive development. The bottom line: It’s safer.”

IDose is now a standard application at ETMC Athens and, according to Vasquez, will soon be standard throughout the ETMC system.

Posted July 26, 2011