Radiation Dose in Medical Imaging

Medical imaging saves lives, and, its utilization has increased immensely over the years. Now, radiation dose in medical imaging has become the focus of an intense public and technical discussion.
In the U.S., for example, the annual per capita radiation dose from medical exposure has risen from 0.53 mSv to 3.1 mSv over the past three decades (Figure 1)1.

Computed Tomography (CT) is under special scrutiny because it has become the single largest contributor to man-made radiation exposure. Today, the radiation dose level from medical exposure is in the same range as the annual natural background radiation of 3.1 mSv. The same patterns are observed in all industrialized countries, and it can be expected that the pattern will be the same in other countries.

Radiation Dose in Medical Imaging
Fig. 1:
Distribution and development of annual per capita dose in mSv to the population from 1980 to 2006 in the USA as an example for the development in industrialized countries1.

1 Sources and Effects of Ionizing Radiation, UNSCEAR 2008 Report. United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, New York, 2010.