HealthDay News — Patients have a lack of understanding relating to radiation exposure associated with common spinal imaging modalities, according to a study published in the March issue of The Spine Journal.

Daniel D. Bohl, MD, MPH, from the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional survey study to characterize spine patients’ knowledge regarding radiation exposure from imaging modalities. All new patients were administered an electronic survey prior to their first appointment with a single spinal surgeon.

The researchers found that patients accurately approximated the radiation associated with two views of the cervical spine (median estimate of 3.5 chest X-rays [CXRs] vs an actual value of 4.7 CXRs). The dose for computed tomography (CT) scans of the cervical spine, two views of the lumbar spine, and CT scans of the lumbar spine was underestimated (2.0 vs 145.3 CXRs; 3.0 vs 123.3 CXRs; and 2.0 vs 638.3 CXRs, respectively). 

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Most patients believed that magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was associated with some radiation exposure. Overall, 14%, 13%, and 9% of patients would consider forgoing imaging recommended by their surgeon out of concern for radiation exposure for X-rays, CT scans, and MRI, respectively.

“These data suggest that patients might benefit from increased counseling and/or educational materials regarding radiation exposure before undergoing diagnostic imaging of the cervical or lumbar spine,” the authors wrote.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the medical device and publishing industries.

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Bohl DD, Hijji FY, Massel DH, et al. Patient knowledge regarding radiation exposure from spinal imaging. Spine J. 2017;17(3):305-312. doi:10.1016/j.spinee.2016.09.017