Cardiac Imaging, Benefits And Risks

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During the examination of patients having chest pain or other cardiac risk factors, doctors are depending ct_scan_deviceincreasingly on nuclear imaging and computed tomography (CT) scans to check the conditions of these patients. Such techniques have proved to be helpful, life-saving solutions, for such patients. However, there are rising concerns about the safety profile of such techniques, specially the potential cancer-causing effects of these diagnostic procedures, according to researchers writing in the May 2010 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, an article named Cardiovascular Imaging.

Jagat Narula, M.D., Ph.D., Division of Cardiology, University of California, Irvine, and editor-in-chief of JACC, Cardiovascular Imaging, said "These tests are so widely applied now, the concern is that there is some potential of increased cancer risk associated with their use," he added "The problem is that most estimates of radiation exposure stem from an extrapolation of studies on World War II Hiroshima survivors, and the radiation exposure from imaging tests may not necessarily be the same." There is continues evaluation of the benefits of both CT and nuclear imaging scans against their risks. Leslee Shaw, Ph.D., professor of medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA, and an author of the editorial, commented "Because most patients undergoing cardiac imaging are symptomatic, the risk of heart disease is high, so the radiation risk is far less than the benefits gained," he added "If we can identify appropriate patients for testing, then we can provide more intensive treatment and the patient will likely have better outcomes. And, importantly, the radiation exposure is far less than the benefit gained from targeting treatment for heart disease."

Shaw continued "There has also been a tendency to play up the fears of radiation and we don't want patients to be afraid of these tests," He added there have been several examples involving very sick patients declining to undergo imaging procedures when the test was significantly important for them based on their clinical features. Shaw said "We should encourage patients and doctors to talk about whether a test is needed, why it is being ordered and what it will show. Dialogue about the benefits of testing and the risks of radiation exposure is an essential part of the patient and physician decision making." He concluded that doctors should inform patients about the benefits of these procedures to help them in making their decisions. Shaw added that such patients should ask themselves "Am I going to gain more information by having this test, and am I willing to accept a small dose [of radiation] to find out?"


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