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Patients Needing Heart Tests Should Talk to Their Doctors About Radiation-Free Diagnostic Options, Including Cardiovascular Ultrasound

Tue, 09/06/2011 - 12:34pm
Bio-Medicine.Org

MORRISVILLE, N.C., Sept. 6, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Two recent publications, a Sentinel Alert on the dangers of medical radiation by The U.S. Joint Commission and an article entitled "The Business of Healing Hearts" published in the September issue of Consumer Reports magazine, could cause patients needing diagnostic cardiovascular testing to be concerned about the safety of those tests, or even to avoid them altogether.  

According to a study cited in The Joint Commission alert, from the 72 million CT (computerized tomography) scans performed in the U.S. during 2007, it is estimated that 29,000 future cancers and 14,500 future deaths could develop due to radiation (cancer incidence = 0.04 percent).  The Commission therefore recommends that, to reduce the exposure of the patient to ionizing radiation, other imaging techniques such as ultrasound or MRI be used whenever these tests will produce the required diagnostic information at a similar quality level.  Since ultrasound is portable, cost-effective, and can be used in patients with pacemakers and defibrillators, it clearly has its advantages, particularly in caring for patients with suspected heart disease.

The American Society of Echocardiography (ASE) is available as a resource for consumers seeking alternatives to radiation-based cardiovascular testing.  "ASE's heart and circulation specialists perform ultrasound on patients of all ages, from babies to the elderly, because it is extremely safe and non-taxing on the patient.  Sonographers performing the exams don't even have to leave the room, so they are able to be with the patient at all times.  And, a quality echo exam has been proven to be as effective as other imaging procedures in the majority of diagnostic cardiac exams," said ASE President Dr. James Thomas.

Advances in technology also continue to expand echocardiography's scope of patient care. Ultrasound is now used in a wide variety

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