GE Healthcare to slash back CT scanning radiation dosing

In the wake of new medical research suggesting that soaring CT scan usage was boosting radiation exposure to the point of possible health risks, GE Healthcare has taken the public relations offensive in a major way.

The maker of CT scanning tech says it will work with major hospital systems and doctors to reduce patient radiation dosing from computed tomography scans by up to 50%. Traditionally, lower radiating dosing reduces the clarity of CT images, but GE says its technology can achieve high-quality imaging using radiation dose levels in some cases that are comparable to chest X-rays. GE Healthcare, a division of General Electric ($GE) debuted its new program with the North Shore-LIJ Health System, with plans to work with health systems representing 3,500 hospitals across the country.

Talking about taking lemons and making lemonade. Earlier this month, a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association noted that CT scan and MRI imaging usage tripled and quadrupled, respectively, in 6 large health systems between 1996 and 2010. While the imaging industry challenged the results of the study, the study authors argued that their finding of booming use of both imaging systems created possible health risks due to more radiation exposure. High-quality imaging systems traditionally have used larger levels of radiation.

In light of the study publication, the timing of GE Healthcare's announcement could very well be coincidental. But if nothing else, it sure is timely. And the company notes that radiation dose reduction goals will likely vary depending on the health care location and the CT imaging machines' baseline radiation settings. The company also emphasizes that diagnostic imaging quality must be maintained "in all cases."

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