The second paper investigated the variation in CT scan technique at four hospitals in the San Francisco area. The authors found wide variations in radiation dose due to different settings on the devices and the radiation exposure was much higher than previously published data suggested. For example, the median exposure from an abdominal CT scan was 31 millisieverts, a figure about four times higher than the usually quoted range.
For comparison, a CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis with contrast has an estimated radiation exposure to the patient of some 234 routine chest x-rays. A CT coronary angiogram exposes a patient to the same dose of radiation as 309 chest x-rays.
Editorialists in both Archives of Internal Medicine and JAMA expressed great concern and call for tighter regulation. The radiologists are also considering measures to try to decrease the number of CT scans done in the U.S.