There is a new online forum for radiologists who want to weigh in on the benefits and drawbacks of CT scans.

Dark chocolate, red wine, even exercise—they all have health benefits, if used in moderation. Clinicians, however, tell us that if we overdue it, we can suffer the consequences, be it weight gain, addiction, or injury. When it comes to good things, moderation appears to be the name of the game.

For radiologists, the invention of the CT scanner was a good thing. A very good thing, indeed. With the advent of the CT in the 1970s, clinicians could detect cancers earlier and could avoid performing unnecessary surgeries on patients. As CT technologies have gotten better and better, radiologists can see so much more than ever before. But CT scanners have brought with them their own unique challenges. Two of the most pressing concerns are incidental findings and radiation dose.

Incidental findings—or “incidentalomas,” as they’ve become known—can occur with any modality. However, there appears to be a proliferation of the phenomenon with CT scans. For radiologists, an incidentaloma poses a unique dilemma. If you report it and it turns out to be nothing, you’re likely to subject the patient to unnecessary additional tests and needless worry—not to mention the burden of costs on the patient, the payor, and/or the system. And although some experts say that 98% of incidental findings are of no significance, if you don’t report it, you leave yourself open to a possible malpractice suit down the line. So the question is: What’s a radiologist to do? ? To learn more, read our cover story “Safe and Sorry?

Radiation dose control is the other key issue. We all know a CT scan can be a lifesaver; but too much radiation can be life threatening. It’s a delicate balance, to say the least. Thankfully, numerous manufacturers have introduced dose reducing techniques, and groups like Image Gently and Image Wisely continue to offer educational tools. Even so, at the end of the day, it falls on the clinician to decide when to order a CT scan and when to refrain.

We cover CT—along with all the other diagnostic imaging modalities—in this magazine every month. CT is a good thing, but it’s also fraught with controversy and concern. For that reason, we wanted to give CT its own forum. A place where professionals could go to learn more, comment, interact, share a point of view. We call it “CT Scan: An Axis Imaging News Community.” If you haven’t already, I’d like to invite all readers of Axis Imaging News to visit ctscan.imagingeconomics.comAnd here’s the best part. When you visit our CT Scan Community, you’ll be interacting with health care consumers, too. In 2010, roughly 70 million CT scans were performed on American patients—you can bet they want information. Currently, they’re getting their facts from the mass media—be it a morning show or their daily newspaper. ? Shouldn’t you be weighing in? Radiologists are the experts. This is your opportunity to share information, advice, and your expertise directly with patients across the nation. We’re drawing health care consumers to our “CT Scan Community” through Facebook, Twitter, and more. And they want to hear from you.

So log on. Read our posts about CT technology, new research, dose reduction strategies, safety and educational information, business and legal news, and much more. Comment, share your perspective, and reach patients directly. Our online forum connects you with both colleagues and consumers.

For today’s patients, getting a CT scan is about as common as getting a dental cleaning. But it can carry far greater consequences—for them and you. Make your voice heard about when a CT scan is a good thing—and when it’s not.

Marianne Matthews

Marianne Matthews