From the June 2013 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
By Frederic Fahey
In nuclear medicine and molecular imaging,
small amounts of radioactive agents are administered to the patient to allow the physician to examine molecular processes within the body. These procedures are highly effective, safe and painless diagnostic tools that present physicians with a detailed view of what’s going on inside an individual’s body at the cellular level. For more than 60 years, these studies have been used to evaluate practically all systems within the body, including the heart and brain, as well as to image many types of cancer.
The Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging and the society’s Technologist Section recognize that the use of low levels of radiation in these procedures entails some possible risk. Radiation dose for all nuclear medicine and molecular imaging procedures should be optimized so that the patient receives the smallest possible amount of radiopharmaceutical that will provide the appropriate diagnostic information. SNMMI and SNMMI-TS also recognize that if an appropriate procedure — one that can provide the physician with clinical information essential to the patient’s treatment — is not performed when necessary due to fear of radiation; it can be detrimental to the patient.
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The SNMMI and SNMMI-TS believe that the right test with the right dose should be given to the right patient at the right time. When nuclear medicine and molecular imaging procedures are performed correctly on appropriate patients, the benefits of the procedure very far outweigh the potential risks. The procedure that provides the most useful clinical information is the one that should be performed.
To ensure the appropriate use of these procedures, all nuclear medicine facilities should have comprehensive quality control measures in place, their nuclear medicine physicians should have up-to-date training, and their technologists should be appropriately trained and certified. SNMMI and SNMMI-TS and their members continually strive to improve quality and standards to ensure patients receive the best, safest and most appropriate care.
Moving forward, dose optimization will become a part of SNMMI’s communications, outreach, advocacy and education efforts. This integrated approach will help to provide information and guidance on dose optimization to imaging professionals, referring physicians, policymakers and the public.
To consolidate SNMMI resources on dose optimization in one place, a microsite is being created as part of the SNMMI website and will include dose optimization guidelines and recommendations, journal and newsletter articles, fact sheets and white papers on dose optimization, and a bibliography of dose optimization articles from non-SNMMI publications. Other communication vehicles, such as position papers, presentation materials and other resources will also be created.