Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Hold on, I will get to that....

While commenting on different issues over the years, I have mentioned my concern for the amount of radiation that our bodies are exposed to when having medical exams or diagnostic tests, including CTs, X-rays and X-rays at the dentist.

I may have mentioned that in recent years, I have become more assertive in assessing the situation and even refusing to have X-rays from time to time. I am a definite opponent to CT scans used as screening measures for lung cancer in smokers. How counter intuitive is that?? If you want to reduce the risk of lung cancer, tell the patient to QUIT smoking....for example. But I also don't think we should have our bodies scanned every time something hurts.

So when I received an FDA e mail alert on radiation overdoses, I took the time to read the text. It seems that a large group of people, 200, were exposed to enough radiation in a brain scan to have their hair fall out and their skin break out into a rash. This occurred at one facility and with one machine, but the FDA alert notes that the situation was uncovered because the patients had symptoms. It is not out of the question that other machines are also over radiating people but more subtlety and that over time that radiation will lead to conditions, such as cancer.

The agency is urging facilities to monitor the control panels of their machines which list the dose indices. The two things that the operators should note are the volume CT dose and the dose-length product. These are measured in milligrays and milligray-centimeters, or mGy and mGy-cm. The FDA does not say what the indices should read, only that the facility should check to make sure that the numbers are similar to those that would normally be used for that particular diagnostic test. [that scares me, is there a universal scale?? who decides? - why don't they already do this?]

The FDA suggests that the indices be checked before AND after the scan. I think that if I ever am in a position that I really need a CT, I am going to mention this study.

I know that not everyone who needs to see these FDA alerts, which I voluntarily signed up for, sees them. Back in the summer there was an email about a product that was being used to topically treat inflammation which was not FDA approved for use. My physical therapist's office HAD THE PRODUCT for sale and even after I told them about this, and they went on line to find the information, they kept it on the counter....

Sadly, no one cares about your well being more than you do and sadder still, some times "you" don't care either....

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