Obesity and CT Scan Radiation—Technology Helps to Cut Exposure

Most medical equipment is not designed for obese patient optimization, including diagnostic imaging modalities. Due to this, overweight and obese individuals are subject to higher levels of radiation during routine CT scans and X-rays.

A recent study, published in the Journal of Physics in Medicine and Biology, calculated exactly how much additional radiation overweight patients are exposed to from CT scans. According to the research, obese men and women receive 62 percent and 59 percent more radiation during CT scans than normal weight individuals. However, new technology can help control that percentage.

Phantoms, realistic 3-D computer models of overweight and obese men and women, can now be used to determine the risk of radiation scans on different body types.  The use of various sized phantoms to study CT dose distribution within the human body is a very scientific approach when considering the effects of CT. This technology will be able to accurately tell radiologists how much radiation patients receive from different devices so that they can make the safest and optimal choice for the patient.

Notice, this article highlights the significant increase in radiation dose—especially in obese patients—from increasing kVp to 140. At UW, our technologists use 140 kVP for CT only after having a conversation with a radiologist about each specific case.

Learn more about the use of phantoms for obese patients here.

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