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Combination or Double CT Scans of the Abdomen

A computed tomography (CT) scan uses x-rays to produce cross sectional images of the body.  CT scans are more detailed than standard x-rays.  Abdominal CT scans are valuable diagnostic tools that provide information about the organs and tissue in the abdomen.  The amount of radiation from CT scans is greater than that from other x-rays.  For some CT scans, a substance called contrast is used before the scan begins, to help make parts of the body stand out more clearly on the x-rays. When contrast is used a CT scan may be performed with and without contrast. The use of combination or double CT scans (one with contrast, one without) exposes the patient to double the amount of radiation.

What are we measuring?

The graph below shows the percentage of times a combination or double CT scan of the abdomen was performed on inpatients and outpatients at JFK.  The outpatient average for New Jersey and the Nation are also displayed.

A lower percentage is better.

201607-CTAbdomen

 

What is our performance telling us?

The radiology team has worked to decrease the rate of double CT scans for outpatients.  The current rate for outpatient CT scans of the abdomen is below the national average rate and slightly above the NJ rate.   (www.HospitalCompare.gov).   

To keep this rate trending down, all orders for double CT scans are reviewed by the radiology team to determine medical necessity.  Also, individual cases may be discussed with the ordering physician. This collaboration between the radiology team and your physician helps reduce unnecessary double CT scans. In addition, pre-contrast liver scans are eliminated for most CT scans of the abdomen to further reduce the radiation dose to the patient.

It is our goal to maintain a rate for outpatient double CT scans below both NJ and the national averages.

JFK has significantly reduced the number of double scans for both in patient and outpatients since 2012.  The data continues to demonstrate an overall lower trend.  It is our goal decrease double CT scans to the irreducible minimum.

What can you do to reduce your radiation exposure?

Risks associated with radiation exposure may be related to the cumulative number of X-ray examinations and/or treatments over a long period of time.  If you have had frequent tests involving radiation keeping a record of those tests can help you and your physician make better informed decisions.