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Published on January 07, 2011

Kish and Valley West Hospitals Implement Low Dose Radiology Practices

January 7, 2011

Kishwaukee and Valley West Community Hospitals and its radiologists have implemented a comprehensive initiative to reduce the radiation dose patients receive when they have a computed tomography (CT) scan, X-ray or fluoroscopy exam.Kishwaukee and Valley West Community Hospitals and its radiologists have implemented a comprehensive initiative to reduce the radiation dose patients receive when they have a computed tomography (CT) scan, X-ray or fluoroscopy exam. 

“This initiative represents a significant investment in equipment and software upgrades dedicated to dose reduction as well as staff and physician time and education,” said Brad Copple, president of Kish and Valley West Hospitals. 

“Because 64-slice CT scanners with low dose technology are unique to our hospitals, we are providing the highest and safest imaging quality available in DeKalb County,” Copple said.     

Dr. James Lee, KishHealth System’s radiology medical director, said the effort began about a year ago, well before recent findings that have led to a national campaign to keep patients safe from inappropriate or excessive exposure to radiation. 

Kish and Valley West radiologists and radiology technologists are participating in the Image Gently (for pediatric patients) and Image Wisely (for adult patients) programs endorsed by  the American College of Radiology, the Radiological Society of North America, the American Association of Physicists in Medicine, and the American Society of Radiologic Technologists.     

“Because excessive exposure to radiation from any source can increase cancer risk later in one’s lifetime, keeping radiation dose for medical imaging to the minimum that is absolutely necessary is clearly desired,” said Dr. Lee.      

Dr. Lee is among 18 radiologists with Aurora Radiology Consults (ARC), the group that provides radiology services for Kish and Valley West Hospitals and other providers in the region.                   

Joseph Kmiecik, MD, PhD, a radiologist and biophysicist, has been instrumental in implementing Kish and Valley West’s dose reduction initiative.        

“As CTs have become more and more useful, the number of CTs performed has greatly increased over the years, increasing radiation doses to patients,” Dr. Kmiecik said.“Our responsibility as radiologists is to provide an accurate diagnosis with as low a radiation dose as possible, but never to the point of sacrificing diagnostic quality. Our challenge is to find that balance, and I think we are ahead of many hospitals in accomplishing that. KishHealth System’s investment in the latest equipment goes a long way toward that goal,” he said. 

Radiation dose reduction strategies can be as simple and effective as performing ultrasound or MRI studies instead of CT when appropriate, as no radiation is involved with these modalities, Dr. Kmiecik said.  

CT scans are tailored to the patient’s size and shape, a technique called dose modulation, which automatically adjusts radiation dose.  

More recently, Kishwaukee and Valley West Hospitals have invested in new technology called ASIR (Adaptive Statistical Iterative Reconstruction). ASIR allows the same image quality with up to 50 percent less radiation than typical CT scanners. 

Kish Hospital recently purchased a new 64-slice CT scanner that has the ASIR technology and is also upgrading an existing 64-slice CT scanner with ASIR.  A recently installed 64-slice CT scanner at Valley West also has received the ASIR upgrade.

“Our CT radiation dose was already low because of Dr. Kmiecik’s efforts. But with the ASIR software, we can now reduce the dose by another 30-40 percent and still maintain beautiful images,” said Joni Simone, Kish Hospital radiologic technologist.        

In addition to the dose reduction procedures in place for CT, Kish and Valley  West have purchased equipment for decreasing radiation dose for fluoroscopy (real-time X-ray imaging), used for such procedures as upper GIs and colon exams and in diagnostic and interventional vascular procedures.  

Kish is also obtaining a computerized dose injector for the PET/CT scanner at the new Cancer Center. The injector is programmed to deliver the exact dose of radioactive isotope (FDG) based on the patient’s weight, eliminating excess radiation and improving patient safety. 

“The investment in dose reduction technologies can be a hard sell to many hospitals because of the cost, but Kish and Valley have made the commitment to patient safety in terms of dollars as well as staff and physician education,” Dr. Kmiecik said.

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