A comparison of COVID-19 and imaging radiation risk in clinical patient populations.

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OBJECTIVE: The outbreak of coronavirus SARS-COV2 affected more than 180 countries necessitating fast and accurate diagnostic tools. Reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) has been identified as a gold standard test with Chest CT and Chest Radiography showing promising results as well. However, radiological solutions have not been used extensively for the diagnosis of COVID-19 disease, partly due to radiation risk. This study aimed to provide quantitative comparison of imaging radiation risk versus COVID risk. METHODS: The analysis was performed in terms of mortality rate per age group. COVID-19 mortality was extracted from epidemiological data across 299,004 patients published by ISS-Integrated surveillance of COVID-19 in Italy. For radiological risk, the study considered 659 Chest CT performed in adult patients. Organ doses were estimated using a Monte Carlo method and then used to calculate Risk Index that was converted into an upper bound for related mortality rate following NCI-SEER data. RESULTS: COVID-19 mortality showed a rapid rise for ages >30 years old (min:0.30%; max:30.20%), whereas only 1 death was reported in the analyzed patient cohort for ages <20 years old. The rates decreased for radiation risk across age groups. The median mortality rate across all ages for Chest-CT and Chest-Radiography were 0.007% (min:0.005%; max:0.011%) and 0.0003% (min:0.0002%; max:0.0004%), respectively. CONCLUSIONS: COVID-19, Chest Radiography, and Chest CT mortality rates showed different magnitudes and trends across age groups. In higher ages, the risk of COVID-19 far outweighs that of radiological exams. Based on risk comparison alone, Chest Radiography and CT for COVID-19 care is justified for patients older than 20 and 30 years old, respectively. Notwithstanding other aspects of diagnosis, the present results capture a component of risk consideration associated with the use of imaging for COVID. Once integrated with other diagnostic factors, they may help inform better management of the pandemic.





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Ria, Francesco, Wanyi Fu, Hamid Chalian, Ehsan Abadi, Paul W Segars, Rafael Fricks, Pegah Khoshpouri, Ehsan Samei, et al. (2020). A comparison of COVID-19 and imaging radiation risk in clinical patient populations. J Radiol Prot. 10.1088/1361-6498/abbf3b Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/21590.

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