In defense of body CT

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2009 Jul;193(1):28-39. doi: 10.2214/AJR.09.2754.


Objective: Rapid technical developments and an expanding list of applications that have supplanted less accurate or more invasive diagnostic tests have led to a dramatic increase in the use of body CT in medical practice since its introduction in 1975. Our purpose here is to discuss medical justification of the small potential risk associated with the ionizing radiation used in CT and to provide perspectives on practice-specific decisions that can maximize overall patient benefit. In addition, we review available dose management and optimization techniques.

Conclusion: Dose reduction strategies described in this article must be well understood and properly used, but also require broad-based practice strategies that extend beyond the CT scanner console and default, generic manufacturer settings. In the final analysis, physicians must request the imaging examination that best addresses the specific medical question without allowing worries about radiation to dissuade them or their patients from obtaining needed CT examinations. Ongoing efforts to ensure that CT examinations are both medically justified and optimally performed must continue, and education must be provided to the medical community and general public that put both the potential risks--and benefits--of CT examinations into proper perspective.

MeSH terms

  • Body Burden*
  • Radiation Injuries / etiology*
  • Radiation Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / adverse effects*
  • Whole Body Imaging / adverse effects*