Environmental Impact of CT Imaging
October 13, 2023
Anna Romanyukha, PhD, Scientific Liaison at Qaelum
Computed Tomography (CT) imaging plays a crucial role in modern healthcare, enabling accurate diagnosis and treatment planning. However, the increasing use of CT scans raises concerns about their environmental impact. Some of the key concerns are as follows:
- Energy Consumption: CT scanners require a significant amount of energy to operate. The energy demand arises from various components, including X-ray tube cooling systems, gantry rotation, image reconstruction, and data processing. The continuous use of energy-intensive CT scanners contributes to high electricity consumption, resulting in increased carbon emissions and environmental degradation.
- Contrast Media Usage: Contrast agents, such as iodinated compounds, are commonly used in CT imaging to enhance the visibility of specific anatomical structures. The use of contrast media can have environmental consequences due to their production, disposal, and potential ecological impacts. Concerns include the disposal of unused contrast media, the release of potentially harmful chemicals into wastewater systems, and the accumulation of contrast agents in the environment.
- Lifecycle Considerations: The lifecycle of CT scanners involves resource extraction, manufacturing, transportation, usage, and disposal. Each stage has associated environmental impacts, such as the extraction of raw materials, energy-intensive manufacturing processes, and electronic waste generated from outdated or decommissioned CT equipment. Considering the entire lifecycle helps identify areas where sustainability measures can be implemented to reduce the environmental footprint of CT imaging.
- Sustainable Practices and Awareness: As awareness of environmental sustainability grows, there is a need for the healthcare industry to adopt greener practices in CT imaging. This includes energy-efficient CT scanner designs, radiation dose optimization techniques, responsible contrast media usage, waste reduction and recycling programs, and environmentally conscious disposal methods. Promoting sustainable practices and integrating environmental considerations into healthcare policies and guidelines can help mitigate the environmental impact of CT scans.
Qaelum offers a range of solutions including DOSE, and CT repeat and Contrast in foqal can assist healthcare facilities in managing energy consumption, contrast media usage, scanner lifecycle, and waste reduction. Here's a brief overview of how Qaelum can help:
- DOSE and CT repeat can assess the performance and efficiency of CT scanners, helping healthcare facilities identify energy usage patterns and optimize scanner operation to minimize energy consumption. Furthermore, protocol management in DOSE enables healthcare professionals to make informed decisions regarding CT imaging protocols, resulting in reduced energy consumption.
- Contrast in foqal fully centralizes media usage in CT imaging. By monitoring of usage patterns and providing insights, healthcare facilities can identify opportunities for reducing unnecessary contrast media administration, leading to lower environmental impact.
- CT repeat helps evaluates the energy efficiency and performance of CT scanners. By analyzing energy consumption and identifying areas for improvement, such as protocols or scanners with the highest repeat rates, recommendations for equipment upgrades or replacements can be extracted.
- By identifying areas for improvement, such as optimizing workflows and scheduling, healthcare facilities can reduce patient waiting times and equipment idle periods, leading to improved efficiency and waste reduction.
Qaelum's solutions and services provide support in managing energy consumption, optimizing contrast media usage, evaluating scanner lifecycle, and reducing waste in CT imaging. By leveraging our expertise and tools, healthcare facilities can implement sustainable practices, reduce environmental impact, and promote efficient and responsible use of resources throughout the CT imaging process.
Anna Romanyukha received her Ph.D. degree in medical physics from the Centre of Medical Radiation Physics (UOW, Australia) and her M.Sc. degree in health physics from Georgetown University (Washington DC, USA). She worked as a post baccalaureate and pre doctoral fellow at the National Cancer Institute (NIH, Washington DC) on various projects including radiation dose estimation from diagnostic exposures. She now works in Qaelum NV, focusing on advanced software tools in patient radiation dose management and quality.