Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Had a CT scan and lost a band of hair? Here's a toupee.

Oh man, another radiation treatment system gone wrong. Back in the day of the Therac-25 one suggestion was to pry the offending key off the keyboard. Now if you lose a strip of hair after a CT scan maybe you'll be offered a wig.

A quote (and the pictures of patients are amazing) from "After Stroke Scans, Patients Face Serious Health Risks" from the NY Times:
... amid concerns that patients are getting more radiation than necessary, the medical community has embraced the idea of using only enough to obtain an image sufficient for diagnosis.

To do that, GE offers a feature on its CT scanner that can automatically adjust the dose according to a patient’s size and body part. It is, a GE manual says, “a technical innovation that significantly reduces radiation dose.”

At Cedars-Sinai and Glendale Adventist, technicians used the automatic feature — rather than a fixed, predetermined radiation level — for their brain perfusion scans.

But a surprise awaited them: when used with certain machine settings that govern image clarity, the automatic feature did not reduce the dose — it raised it.