Applications of justification and optimization in medical imaging: examples of clinical guidance for computed tomography use in emergency medicine

J Am Coll Radiol. 2014 Jan;11(1):36-44. doi: 10.1016/j.jacr.2013.09.023. Epub 2013 Oct 13.


Availability, reliability, and technical improvements have led to continued expansion of computed tomography (CT) imaging. During a CT scan, there is substantially more exposure to ionizing radiation than with conventional radiography. This has led to questions and critical conclusions about whether the continuous growth of CT scans should be subjected to review and potentially restraints or, at a minimum, closer investigation. This is particularly pertinent to populations in emergency departments, such as children and patients who receive repeated CT scans for benign diagnoses. During the last several decades, among national medical specialty organizations, the American College of Emergency Physicians and the American College of Radiology have each formed membership working groups to consider value, access, and expedience and to promote broad acceptance of CT protocols and procedures within their disciplines. Those efforts have had positive effects on the use criteria for CT by other physician groups, health insurance carriers, regulators, and legislators.

MeSH terms

  • Emergency Medical Services / standards*
  • Emergency Medicine / standards*
  • Guideline Adherence
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Radiation Protection / standards*
  • Radiology / standards*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / standards*
  • United States