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Cumulative exposure to ionising radiation from diagnostic imaging tests: a 12-year follow-up population-based analysis in Spain

Por: Lumbreras · B. · Salinas · J. M. · Gonzalez-Alvarez · I.

To calculate each patient’s cumulative radiation exposure and the recurrent tests during a 12-year study period, according to sex and age, in routine practice.


Retrospective cohort study.


A general hospital with a catchment population of 224 751 people, in the Southeast of Spain.


Population belonged to the catchment area of that hospital in 2007. We collected all consecutive diagnostic imaging tests undergone by this population until 31 December 2018. We excluded: imaging tests that did not involve radiation exposure.

Main outcome measures

The cumulative effective dose and the recurrent imaging tests by sex and age at entry of study.


Of the 224 751 people, 154 520 (68.8%) underwent an imaging test. The population had 1 335 752 imaging tests during the period of study: 1 110 077 (83.0%) plain radiography; 156 848 (11.8%) CT; 63 157 (4.8%) fluoroscopy and 5670 (0.4%) interventional radiography. 25.4% of the patients who had a CT, underwent five or more CTs (5.4% in the 0–20 years age group). The median total cumulative effective dose was 2.10 mSv (maximum 3980.30) and 16.30 mSv (maximum 1419.30 mSv) if we considered only doses associated with CT. Women received more effective dose than men (median 2.38 vs median 1.90, p


Nearly 5% of patients received doses higher than 50 mSv during the 12-year period of study and 2.5% of the patients in the 0–20 years age group, if we considered only doses associated with CT. The rate of recurrent examinations was high, especially in older patients, but also relevant in the 0–20 years age group.