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
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
"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
"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,
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
Harold Litt, MD-PhD, University of
Cynthia McCollough, PhD, Mayo Clinic, US
Megibow, MD, NYU-Langone Medical Center, US
Michael Recht, MD,
NYU-Langone Medical Center, US
Dushyant Sahani, MD, Harvard
Medical School, Massachusetts General
Schoepf, MD, Medical University of South Carolina, US
Siegel, MD, Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology, US
Sodickson, MD-PhD, Brigham and Women's Hospital, US
Ho, MD, Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Singapore