Sharp rise seen in use of diagnostic scans

Published: September, 2012

Use of diagnostic imaging has risen sharply since the 1990s, exposing some people to "high" or "very high" doses of radiation, according to a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Researchers studied records of diagnostic scans conducted from 1996 to 2010. Use of ultrasound grew by 4% annually. CT use grew by 8%, MRI by 10%, and PET by 57%.

Because CT and PET scans involve exposure to radiation, their increased use raises a potential safety issue. A CT scan of the chest delivers an amount of radiation equivalent to that of 200 chest x-rays. That means after just 10 chest CT scans, a person can reach his or her safe lifetime limit of radiation exposure, according to the American College
of Radiology.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise

New subscriptions to Harvard Health Online are temporarily unavailable. Click the button below to learn about our other subscription offers.

Learn More »