We all know someone – a family member, friend, or neighbor – who has had some form of medical imaging. Whether it’s an X-ray mammogram, CT lung scan or MRI with contrast of the knee, our health care system uses an increasing number of imaging tests to help identify a variety of diseases and injuries.
For the most part, advances in imaging are a very good thing. Especially when they are used to get the best imaging information with the lowest possible radiation dose.
Medical imaging saves lives and makes it easier for radiologists such as Kenneth Salce, M.D., of Northern Arizona Radiology, to find and diagnose disease as soon as possible and with the most accuracy.
“Advances in medical imaging over the past 20 years have been amazing,” said Salce. “Greater accuracy and lower radiation have continued to make imaging procedures better, safer and faster, saving lives and helping to rule out – or more effectively treat – injury and disease.”
A powerful 2009 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that increased use of medical imaging was directly tied to an increase in life expectancy for Americans. It has also been clearly demonstrated that breast cancer screening (mammography) significantly reduces breast cancer mortality, and new, low-dose CT lung scans show great potential to reduce lung cancer mortality and lower treatment costs.
With the rapid increase in the number and frequency of imaging procedures, two organizations were formed to promote the safest use of medical imaging technology: Image Gently ® for pediatric imaging and Image Wisely ® for adult imaging. Northern Arizona Radiology has officially taken both the Image Gently and Image Wisely pledges. This means the center and its staff are committed to raising awareness of opportunities to lower radiation doses for necessary procedures and eliminate medically unnecessary imaging exams.
“These programs assure patients and their referring physicians that our facility and staff have pledged to carefully balance potential radiation exposure risks with the benefits gained from such procedures,” explained Salce.
Launched in 2007, the Image Gently campaign is an initiative of the Alliance for Radiation Safety in Pediatric Imaging that encourages the safe imaging of pediatric patients. The campaign’s goal is to change practice by increasing awareness of radiation protection in the imaging of children. Built on the success of the Image Gently campaign, the Image Wisely campaign focuses on increasing awareness of adult radiation protection. Image Wisely is a collaborative effort of the Joint Task Force on Adult Radiation Protection (made up of members of the American College of Radiology and the Radiological Society of North America), the American Association of Physicists in Medicine, and the American Society of Radiologic Technologists.
For more information, patients and health care professionals can visit the websites imagegently.org and imagewisely.org.