Radiation Safety

You have a choice of where to have your x-ray studies performed. If you ask yourself, "Am I undergoing x-ray studies at a place where the services are not only top quality and performed by experts, but are also safe for me?" then the answer is "Yes" at VCU Medical Center Department of Radiology.

The  Department of Radiology  at VCU Medical Center is a leader in radiation safety for patients. In fact, its strong and comprehensive radiation safety program is unmatched anywhere in the area.

Radiologic imaging plays a major role in patient care by providing early and accurate diagnosis of disease, improved treatment planning, and image-guided therapies that help save lives every day. 

Although there is a small but recognized risk from radiation exposure with some forms of radiologic  imaging , the benefits of having a needed study far outweigh the risk.  (Conventional x-rays, CT, fluoroscopy, mammography and nuclear medicine are examples of studies which involve the use of ionizing radiation.  Ultrasound and MRI do not involve the use of ionizing radiation).

The Department of Radiology places a strong emphasis not only on quality and expertise of radiologic imaging services but also on patient safety, including radiation safety.  The Department is committed to obtaining quality images while minimizing the risk of radiation exposure to patients from radiologic imaging procedures whenever and wherever possible. 

 Our Radiation Safety Program includes:

  • Full accreditation of all services and equipment by the American College of Radiology (ACR)
  • Utilization of low-dose CT techniques for all patients
  • State-of-the-art equipment to minimize radiation exposure
  • Utilization of "Image Gently" techniques for pediatric patients
  • Utilization of a breast shield for women undergoing chest CT that reduces dose by 36-50%
  • Utilization of gonadal shield and thyroid shielding as indicated
  • On-site radiation physicists who regularly monitor equipment to ensure safe use

Full accreditation of all services and equipment by the American College of Radiology (ACR)
As a facility accredited by the ACR, our Department has undergone a rigorous review process to meet nationally-accepted standards. This ensures that our personnel are well-qualified to perform and interpret your medical images and to conduct image-guided therapeutic interventions. In addition, all equipment and techniques used meet or exceed nationally accepted quality assurance and safety guidelines.

Utilization of low-dose CT techniques and state-of-the-art equipment
When conducting CT scans, we ensure that the minimum amount of radiation necessary is used to obtain a diagnostic quality study. In addition, we are dedicated to performing the study right the first time so that the need for additional scanning is reduced. Also, we adjust our images to focus on only the areas of interest to limit the amount of radiation exposure. Our equipment is state-of-the-art and utilizes the latest dosing protocols to help reduce the amount of radiation exposure. The equipment is monitored, maintained and calibrated on a regular basis by our on-site professional radiation physicists as part of our comprehensive program.

Utilization of "Image Gently" techniques for pediatric patients
"Image Gently", an initiative from the Alliance for Radiation Safety in Pediatric Imaging, promotes special safety precautions for children receiving radiological services. As a participant in this initiative, the Department uses the lowest amount of radiation possible for adequate image resolution based on the size of the child. Our pediatric radiologists oversee all pediatric x-ray imaging and ensure every child examined gets the minimum radiation exposure possible, imaging only the indicated areas and minimizing the use of multiple images.

Utilization of a breast shield for women undergoing chest CT to reduce dose by 36-50%
We seek to decrease the amount of radiation to the breast in patients undergoing chest CT scans by the routine use of a breast shield. Based partly on research conducted by one of our own chest radiologists, the device is placed on the chest of women and reduces the amount of radiation to the breast by 36-50% without decreasing the quality or value of the chest CT exam.

Utilization of gonadal shielding and thyroid shielding as indicated
Our technologists are trained and routinely use shielding of the gonadal areas in young patients and thyroid shielding as indicated to reduce radiation exposure to these radiation-sensitive areas during conventional radiography.

Onsite radiation physicists with regular monitoring of equipment to ensure safe use
The Department has its own team of on-site radiation physicists who regularly monitor and maintain the equipment used and ensure the techniques and radiation delivered are accurate and compliant with our guidelines of using lowest allowable dosing protocols.

For additional information regarding radiation safety in medical imaging, please use the links below.

Safety First, Every Day.

“It is the VCUHS safety vision to be America’s safest health system. It is the VCUHS safety goal to have zero events of preventable harm to patients, employees and visitors.”

- John Duval, CEO (MCVH)

VCU Department of Radiology Virginia Commonwealth University VCU Medical Center