31 May 2008
New Delhi, India
By Kounteya Sinha
Though India was not part of the survey–Thailand being the only Asian country studied–Rehani and experts in India said the standard of X–ray examinations in the country would be just as bad. Rehani told TOI from Vienna that poor image quality of X–rays constituted a major source of unnecessary radiation for patients in developing countries.
“Even as use of X–rays in medical care is growing in developing countries, information about both the quality of X–ray images and patient doses is grossly lacking at many hospitals. Through our study, we found three reasons behind poor X–ray imaging–malfunctioning of X–ray equipment, inappropriate technique and lack of expertise of the operator”, Rehani said.
According to IAEA, every day across the world, radiation is used in more than 10 million diagnostic procedures, 1,00,000 nuclear medicine procedures and for the radiation treatment of over 10,000 patients.
Rehani said, “Every day, about 10 million radiological examinations are performed. More than 90% of these are radiographic examinations like chest and abdomen X–ray. In radiographic examinations, our study has shown that poor quality images are very large (4% to 53%). Even if one takes a conservative figure of 10%, it means about a million poor quality images are generated every day”.
He added that the cost of getting an X–ray should drive providers to ensure that patients aren’t exposed to unnecessary radiation. “The health ministry should be aware of the magnitude of this problem and ensure quality control of X–rays. Our study also showed that improvement in image quality to the tune of 13% in Asia, 16% in Africa and 22% in Europe was achieved by putting in place quality control programmes”,Rehani said.
Prateek Kumar, assistant professor of medical physics at AIIMS, said the findings would be true for India. “In India, 100 million X–rays are done annually. Estimates say more than 10% of X–rays are repeated in hospitals with quality control in place”.