Effective doses in radiology and diagnostic nuclear medicine: a catalog

Radiology. 2008 Jul;248(1):254-63. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2481071451.


Medical uses of radiation have grown very rapidly over the past decade, and, as of 2007, medical uses represent the largest source of exposure to the U.S. population. Most physicians have difficulty assessing the magnitude of exposure or potential risk. Effective dose provides an approximate indicator of potential detriment from ionizing radiation and should be used as one parameter in evaluating the appropriateness of examinations involving ionizing radiation. The purpose of this review is to provide a compilation of effective doses for radiologic and nuclear medicine procedures. Standard radiographic examinations have average effective doses that vary by over a factor of 1000 (0.01-10 mSv). Computed tomographic examinations tend to be in a more narrow range but have relatively high average effective doses (approximately 2-20 mSv), and average effective doses for interventional procedures usually range from 5-70 mSv. Average effective dose for most nuclear medicine procedures varies between 0.3 and 20 mSv. These doses can be compared with the average annual effective dose from background radiation of about 3 mSv.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Nuclear Medicine / standards*
  • Radiation Dosage*
  • Radiology / standards*
  • Relative Biological Effectiveness*
  • Risk Assessment / standards*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / standards*
  • United States