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Breast Shields Can Decrease Radiation Exposure during CT Examination of Women, Study

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According to a new study presented in the American Roentgen Ray Society Annual Meeting, using breast shields is the technique of choice to protect the breasts of women from radiation exposure during chest CT examination.

The International Commission of Radiation Protection (ICRP) increased the tissue weighting factor for the breast from 0.05 to 0.1 highlighting that breast tissue is even more sensitive to radiation exposure than previously thought. For instance, the delivery of 1 rad to a 35-year-old woman is estimated to increase her lifetime risk of breast cancer by 13.6%; each CT exam delivers at least twice that amount, said Rafel Tappouni, MD, the lead author of the study.

Tappouni and colleagues at Penn State Hershey Medical Center, Hershey, Pa, measured the radiation dose to the front and back of a breast phantom (an object that mimics the size of the breast area of a person) using a breast shield and using a new technique called posteriorly centered partial CT, in which the CT scanner turns on and off as it scans the patient. “We found that posteriorly centered partial CT does decrease skin entrance radiation dose to the breast by 16%, but increases overall radiation dose to the chest by 8%. The bismuth breast shields, on the other hand, reduced skin entrance dose to the breast by 38% without an increase in overall radiation dose,” Tappouni said.

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