Needless and dangerous too

Doctors Association, Kashmir [DAK] few weeks before said patients are being charged hefty sums on tests, procedure and medicines in Kashmir valley’s Government run hospitals. While appreciating the concern of ‘DAK’ president Dr. Nissar ul Hassan’s statement about unfair practices in our state run hospitals, is true of even private hospitals mushroomed in Kashmir valley. Though the fact remains that most of the charges are determined by hospital owners.

All said and done, the question arises, weather patients really need all the tests advised by the doctors’ which are commonly used today, such as CT Scans computed tomography], which are the biggest source of radiation of all imaging technologies, used to diagnose every thing from heart disease and cancer to brain tumors, kidney stones, and even injuries.

Admittedly the ability to peer inside the body is nothing short of miraculous and saved countless lives since x-rays were discovered more than a century ago.. but medicos have become increasingly concerned about the over use of many types of scans lately not only because of the huge and growing expense, but even more be cause of the potential risk posed by the exposure to radiation.

People on average, are exposed to about six times more radiation  from medical imaging than they were decades before it is reported that scans now account for hale of our total radiation exposure (“Back ground” radiation from soil, air, water and the cosmos account most of the rest).

Many patients are advised multiple scans, and the number is obviously on increase. The risk from a single CT scan, when properly done, is minuscule, but radiation exposures and up over a lifetimes.

While debating statistics about estimates of risk from medical imaging is on, everyone agrees that un-necessary radiation should be eliminated.

Do Doctors order tests out of habit?

Some doctor’s may Advise tests out of habit, wanting to confirms their clinical skills, and may not focus on radiation doses or the cancer, risks associated with medical imaging. They may also order scans because of failing to diagnose something and being sued for scan’s to be ón the safer side.’

Advertisements, and other IT promotions also influence the patients. As testing machines in private hospitals have financing stake doctors working there order more scans. Scanning machines powerful resolution sometimes make incidental find, though they may be clinically in significant,  but lead to more testing and possibly over treatment.

Now what to do

The American college of radiology  (ACR) has established and array of well-respected medical imaging practice parameters and keep on advising that imaging tests be done only when a clear benefit outweighs the risks, and a minimal level of radiation be used. Question that be asked before undergoing a scan.

•             It the test necessary?

•             Is there a non-radiation alternative, such as ultrasound or MRI, that is equally good?

•             Will the test use the lowest amount of radiation and fewest scan’s for satisfactory results?

•             Will the scan be limited to the suspected indicated area and will nearby areas be properly shielded?


Medical imaging tests are in valuable in the diagnosis and treatment of many disorders. Never avoid necessary exams out of radiation concern. And if a test does not find any thing, that does not mean it was un-necessary.

The best thing. Before having any imaging scan, discuss the advantages and disadvantages.