Patient exposure from radiologic and nuclear medicine procedures in the United States: Procedure volume and effective dose for the period 2006–2016

Fred A. Mettler, Mahadevappa Mahesh, Mythreyi Bhargavan-Chatfield, Charles E. Chambers, Jennifer G. Elee, Donald P. Frush, Donald L. Miller, Henry D. Royal, Michael T. Milano, David C. Spelic, Armin J. Ansari, Wesley E. Bolch, Gary M. Guebert, Robert H. Sherrier, James M. Smith, Richard J. Vetter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

154 Scopus citations


Background: Comprehensive assessments of the frequency and associated doses from radiologic and nuclear medicine procedures are rarely conducted. The use of these procedures and the population-based radiation dose increased remarkably from 1980 to 2006. Purpose: To determine the change in per capita radiation exposure in the United States from 2006 to 2016. Materials and Methods: The U.S. National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements conducted a retrospective assessment for 2016 and compared the results to previously published data for the year 2006. Effective dose values for procedures were obtained from the literature, and frequency data were obtained from commercial, governmental, and professional society data. Results: In the United States in 2006, an estimated 377 million diagnostic and interventional radiologic examinations were performed. This value remained essentially the same for 2016 even though the U.S. population had increased by about 24 million people. The number of CT scans performed increased from 67 million to 84 million, but the number of other procedures (eg, diagnostic fluoroscopy) and nuclear medicine procedures decreased from 17 million to 13.5 million. The number of dental radiographic and dental CT examinations performed was estimated to be about 320 million in 2016. Using the tissue-weighting factors from Publication 60 of the International Commission on Radiological Protection, the U.S. annual individual (per capita) effective dose from diagnostic and interventional medical procedures was estimated to have been 2.9 mSv in 2006 and 2.3 mSv in 2016, with the collective doses being 885 000 and 755 000 person-sievert, respectively. Conclusion: The trend from 1980 to 2006 of increasing dose from medical radiation has reversed. Estimated 2016 total collective effective dose and radiation dose per capita dose are lower than in 2006.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)418-427
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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