Studies indicate CT scans might cause cancer

The Merced Sun-StarDecember 22, 2009 

Two studies in the United States have found that radiation from computed tomographic (CT) scanners may cause cancer long after patient exposure.

CT scanning combines special X-ray equipment with sophisticated computers to produce multiple images or pictures of the inside of the body. These cross-sectional images of the area being studied can then be examined on a computer monitor or printed.

The images are three-dimensional, but good imaging has led to a higher risk of damage decades later.

Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, found that CT scans emit higher levels of radiation than was thought at first.

A separate study done by the National Cancer Institute estimated that radiation from more than 70 million CT scans performed in the United States in 2007 will ultimately cause about 29,000 cases of cancer, and a possible 15,000 deaths.

Ray Navarro, director of imaging for Mercy Medical Center Merced, said the CT scanners that are under scrutiny are at least 16-slice scanners. The scanner used at Mercy is a four-slice scanner.

But when the new hospital opens in May, those CT scanners will be 64-slice and 32-slice scanners.

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