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Obese People Exposed To More Radiation During Medical Imaging

4/7/2012 8:16 AM ET

It is a known fact that a person undergoing CT scan or X-ray is exposed to radiation. A new study by researchers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute says that obese patients face higher radiation exposure from CT scans.

In a first-of-its-kind study, which calculated exactly how much additional radiation obese patients received from a CT scan, it has been found that obese men receive 62 percent more radiation and obese women receive an additional 59 percent radiation than those of normal weight.

To perform a CT scan on an obese patient, the equipment has to be adjusted to a more powerful setting to produce a better image because under normal settings only blurry images are got. A more powerful setting means the patient is exposed to additional radiation. Radiation at high doses may cause cancer.

To cut down the radiation exposure and mitigate this risk to obese patients, Rensselaer researchers are developing a new technology that will allow physicians to configure and optimize CT scanning devices to minimize radiation a patient receives.

George Xu, head of the Nuclear Engineering Program and a professor in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering at Rensselaer said, "The risk associated with a radiation dose from a single CT scan is relatively small when compared with the clinical benefit of the procedure. But patients are increasingly undergoing multiple CT scans and other radiation-based procedures, which can lead to unnecessary radiation risk. Our new study brings us one step closer to minimizing radiation exposure and mitigating this risk to patients".

by RTT Staff Writer

For comments and feedback: editorial@rttnews.com

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