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Up to 40% of CT scans unnecessary, and potentially harmful

Six reasons to say No to your doctor . Find out how much of the $2.5 trillion we spend on heath care goes down the drain for tests and treatments thatdon’t help – and may even cause harm  13 Nov 09 High-Tech Imaging
A miracle of modern medicine, the computed tomography (CT) machine takes crystal-clear cross-sectional pictures of the body in a few seconds, using high-tech X-rays. Seventy million scans are done annually, at a cost of $200 or more. It’s a seductive, reassuring and quick technology, for both patients and doctors, but do you always need these scans?

“From what I see in emergency rooms, 30% to 40% of computed tomography scans are not indicated,” says radiologist Stephen Baker of the University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey. He says that all too often scans are ordered for relatively benign conditions such as kidney stones or stomachaches with no alarming symptoms……

…… Primary care docs don’t always know when scans are really needed; one Australian study found that 34 of 50 CT scans ordered by general practitioners were unnecessary.Scans aren’t totally benign. CT scans use approximately 100 times as much radiation as plain chest X-rays. Four million Americans each year get a relatively high radiation dose from multiple types of imaging, raising their future cancer risk slightly, a New England Journal of Medicine study estimated in August.

A more insidious side effect of excess scans is false positives, which can lead to unnecessary treatment. “Mother Nature makes little lumps and bumps in the body; we cannot explain them all,” says Massachusetts General Hospital radiologist James Thrall…………….


November 13, 2009 - Posted by | 2 WORLD, health | , , ,

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