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X-rays repeated in developing countries, says survey

A survey by the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) Division of Radiation has found that the use of X-rays in medical care is growing in developing countries.

The survey, which involved thousands of patients and was carried out in 45 hospitals in 12 countries across Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe found that patient often needed to have repeat X-ray examinations for doctors to have the desired image quality.

“Poor image quality constitutes a major source of unnecessary radiation to patients in developing countries,” emphasises Dr Madan Rehani of the IAEA Division of Radiation, Waste and Transport Safety, which carried out the survey under technical cooperation (TC) projects of the IAEA.

“Fortunately, we’re moving forward to help countries improve the situation and have shown definite improvements.”

The survey – which included Bosnia, Herzegovina and Serbia – found that more than half (53%) of all X-ray images evaluated through the project were of poor quality affecting diagnostic information, Dr Rehani said.

One consequence is that patients then are given repeat examinations, which means exposing them to X-rays again, as well as entailing extra costs. The survey included patients receiving chest, pelvic, abdomen, skull, and spine X-ray examinations.

“Our work shows that focusing on the machine is not enough,” he says. “We´re documenting that the evaluation of image quality and patient dose goes hand-in-hand with safe and effective medical radiography.”