Image Wisely targets nuclear medicine for dose reduction
Article Thumbnail ImageNovember 20, 2012 -- Image Wisely this week is expanding into nuclear medicine with its effort to educate physicians, healthcare practitioners, radiologists, and imaging technologists on the appropriate use of radiation in medical imaging procedures.
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Joining the initiative are the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI), the SNMMI Technologist Section, and the American Society of Nuclear Cardiology (ASNC). The groups have created online educational materials to help healthcare providers use the lowest radiopharmaceutical dose necessary to perform nuclear medicine exams.

"This is a major step forward and has been a very big effort this year," Richard Morin, PhD, co-chair of Image Wisely and Brooks-Hollern professor in the department of radiology at the Mayo Clinic, told AuntMinnie.com.

Since Image Wisely launched its website two years ago, the campaign has collected almost 16,000 pledges from healthcare professionals to support the cause. "With the rollout of nuclear medicine, we expect there will be more people and more institutions pledging as well," Morin said.

Image Wisely is a collaborative initiative from the American College of Radiology (ACR), RSNA, the American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT), and the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM).

Nuclear medicine goals

Image Wisely's nuclear medicine initiative urges providers and technicians to perform nuclear medicine procedures only when clinically indicated, individualize administered doses based on the specific clinical task, minimize radiation dose whenever possible, and familiarize themselves with recommended administered activities.

"One goal is to make sure nuclear medicine procedures are clinically indicated and the physician has a clear understanding of what will come from that particular image," Morin said. "A large part of it has to do with employing techniques to minimize radiation dose and familiarize [technologists] with the recommended administered activities."

Since its inception in 2010, Image Wisely has, among its accomplishments, created medical imaging cards for patients to track of the types of imaging exams they receive. Morin also applauded imaging equipment vendors for their efforts in educating users on the most efficient ways to optimize radiation dose with their technologies.

"Radiation dose for all nuclear medicine and molecular imaging procedures should be optimized so that the patient receives the smallest possible amount of radiopharmaceutical that will provide the appropriate diagnostic information," said Frederic Fahey, DSc, SNMMI president and representative to Image Wisely, in a prepared statement.

Image Gently

While Image Wisely is generally aimed at adult patients, all recommendations regarding appropriate radiation dose can be applied to children as well, dovetailing with the Image Gently campaign, which focuses on pediatric radiation exposure, Morin said.

Up next for Image Gently is to bring radiation dose awareness to fluoroscopy and interventional radiology procedures and develop a campaign around those technologies.

"The other part of the campaign is to approach the nonimaging physician community," Morin said. "We will develop a campaign to get practitioners involved in thinking a lot about what is the best procedure to order and taking a look at a patient's history to see how long ago they had one of those procedures done."

Those are all "very large issues," he added, "but we feel confident that if we put together the right campaign, we can raise some consciousness in this area and then affect the ordering side of the imaging situation."

Eventually, Image Wisely plans to take its educational initiative to the general public to provide information to patients about potential radiation exposure during imaging exams.

"We felt that it was important to establish the Image Wisely approach to optimal use of radiation in the imaging community first, then in the physician community at large, and then our campaign will switch to the patients themselves," Morin said.