Siemens launches initiative to reduce radiation dose from CT scans

22 July 2010

Siemens Healthcare (NYSE:SI) has launched the SIERRA (Siemens Radiation Reduction Alliance) initiative to reduce patient exposure to radiation in computed tomography (CT) scans.

It has established the Low Dose Expert Panel with 15 specialists in radiology, cardiology and physics, who are internationally recognized for their publications on the subject of CT dose.

The panel's objective is to generate proposals for how manufacturers may continue to develop their technology and to help users better adapt their procedures in order to bring about further dose reduction in CT. One of the most important suggestions from the first meeting of the Low Dose Expert Panel in May concerns methods to increase utilization in clinical practice of the many CT dose reduction technologies that are already available.

Excellent image quality is vital in CT, but it is also important to keep the patient's radiation exposure as low as possible. Siemens Healthcare has already introduced a wide range of measures to help its customers consistently achieve this goal. Now, Siemens wants to take on a more active role in this field and has convened a panel of experts expressly to develop new ideas for dose reduction in CT.

"Our aim as a leading innovator in the field of computed tomography is to reduce radiation exposure for all typical CT examinations below 2 mSv, which is as low as the average annual dose due to naturally occurring background radiation. We are committed to doing everything we can to help our customers reduce doses in CT without compromising the diagnostic quality of the examination in any way," said Sami Atiya, PhD, CEO, Computed Tomography, Siemens Healthcare. "With this in mind, we want to work with experts to develop concrete proposals on dose reduction and, therefore, launched Siemens Radiation Reduction Alliance, SIERRA."

"One of our hopes for the Low Dose Expert Panel is that it will be able to generate concrete proposals as to how we might integrate existing technologies for dose reduction more effectively into clinical practice. Producing recommendations to guide manufacturers in their development of new innovations for dose reduction is another important goal for this panel," Atiya explained.

Already at its first round of discussions last month, the Low Dose Expert Panel identified several action items:

  • To establish a baseline of dose levels for the ten most commonly performed CT exams, the group agreed to establish and contribute to an international, multi-institutional dose registry. As a next step the values obtained can help to establish reference doses, with the potential to dramatically lower radiation exposure in clinical practice.
  • The participating renowned institutions will share their CT scan
    protocols for the 10 most commonly performed examinations on a central website as a first step to promote best practice sharing in the field.
  •  Siemens will develop a dedicated low dose educational program in close collaboration with the involved institutions. Trainers specializing in dose reduction technology will be available to work with customers to train personnel, optimize scan protocols and implement dose reduction procedures.

"Radiation dose from medical imaging has historically received much greater attention in Europe than in other parts of the world, where radiation exposure only recently has become a topic of discussion," said U. Joseph Schoepf, MD, professor and director of CT Research and Development at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charlottesville.

"On that background, Siemens has several decades of experience in the implementation of radiation reduction strategies and has a longstanding, successful track record of providing their customers with tools that deliver optimal image quality at the lowest possible radiation dose.

"Most of the technical features and mechanisms for radiation reduction which regulatory bodies currently consider making mandatory in the US have been part of their standard portfolio and implemented in their products for many years. I am happy and proud to embark on this initiative together with Siemens and my colleagues from around the globe in order to ensure that these powerful tools are used to their fullest extent.

"With this endeavour we can make a difference and show to the world that we do get the message, that we can indeed change, and slash radiation dose without sacrificing diagnostic quality."

Cynthia McCollough, PhD, a medical physicist from Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. said, "I see users operating CT scanners in everyday applications without taking full advantage of the possibilities available to them to strike the optimal balance between image quality and radiation dose. The answer, in my opinion, involves a significant amount of training across a wide range of areas. I want to see users at more and more institutions receive the advanced training they need in order to make best use of the options available, and this will be the main objective of my work on the panel."

"We have made great advances in optimizing pediatric radiation doses, but dose reduction optimization remains a work in progress. Advances in technology and capabilities of CT scanners will continue to evolve and improve our ability to diagnose disease. These advances will mandate new scanning protocols and continuing education for users. By collaborating with industry, we can optimize CT scanning in children even further and continue to improve patient care. I am delighted to join Siemens in an initiative to develop protocols and integrate new technologies into clinical practice," says Marilyn Siegel, MD, from the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology in St. Louis.

The Low Dose Expert Panel will meet twice a year to discuss new ideas and investigate whether measures already agreed upon are having a positive impact. Siemens intends to use the discussions to spur the development of new features for its CT scanners and new training programs for its customers.

The panel's members are:

Hatem Alkadhi, MD, University Hospital Zurich, SwitzerlandChristoph Becker, MD, Ludwig Maximilian University, Germany
Elliot Fishman, MD, Johns Hopkins University, US
Donald Frush, MD, Duke University, US
Jorg Hausleiter, MD, German Heart Center Munich, Germany
Willi Kalender, PhD, University of Erlangen, Germany
Harold Litt, MD-PhD, University of Pennsylvania, US
Cynthia McCollough, PhD, Mayo Clinic, US
Alec Megibow, MD, NYU-Langone Medical Center, US
Michael Recht, MD, NYU-Langone Medical Center, US
Dushyant Sahani, MD, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General
Hospital, U.S.
U. Joseph Schoepf, MD, Medical University of South Carolina, US
Marilyn Siegel, MD, Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology, US
Aaron Sodickson, MD-PhD, Brigham and Women's Hospital, US
Kheng-Thye Ho, MD, Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Singapore


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