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Breast Shield Cuts CT Scan Radiation

Inventors hope to safeguard women from harmful rays

TUESDAY, May 17, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- It may sound like something designed for the U.S. Space Shuttle, but researchers say a new radiation-absorbing shield lowers potentially harmful rays to the breast during chest CT scans by 43 percent to 73 percent -- without affecting the quality of the diagnostic image.

To test their custom-designed shield, made from a special tungsten-antimony alloy, researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University constructed a tissue-equivalent, model female breast and measured the radiation doses it received during a chest CT scan, both with and without the shield.

The lightweight, reusable shield drapes across the patient and could be used for CT angiography, as well as routine chest CT scan examinations, the researchers said.

"The radiation dose delivered to the radiosensitive glandular tissues of the breast [during CT] is an unwanted byproduct," lead researcher Dr. Mark S. Parker explained in a prepared statement. The dose is roughly equal to that received in 10 to 25 mammograms and up to 400 chest X-rays, he said.

"The increasing radiation exposure from CT and its potential adverse effects are real concerns," Parker said.

He and his colleagues hope to have the shield available for commercial use within the next several months.

The study was presented May 16 at the American Roentgen Ray Society annual meeting, in New Orleans.

More information

The Radiological Society of North America has more about chest CT.

SOURCE: American Roentgen Ray Society, news release, May 16, 2005
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