Beware of 'Medical Imaging' It's Over-Prescribed, Very Expensive and Dangerous to Your Health

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No matter what
your health complaint is, if you go see your doctor you might end
up undergoing some kind of high tech imaging procedure such as cardiac
angiography, CT (computed tomography) or MRI (magnetic resonance
imaging). According to a study published last fall in the journal
Health Affairs, medical imaging has soared over the last
few years across all types of these tests, doubling the annual medical
cost per patient. In fact, the study confirmed previous reports
that patients are far-too-often being subjected to unnecessary

At least, most
of these tests are minimally invasive and thoroughly studied to
make sure they carry few risks so they are safe, right? Unfortunately,
the answer is no. New reports of lasting, health-harming effects
from some imaging tests are accumulating. A case in point: a new
study just published in the Clinical Journal of the American
Society Nephrology (CJASN) warns that seemingly minor and reversible
kidney damage
injury which can arise after undergoing certain common medical
procedures is a serious health
threat. The reason? It is linked to a greatly increased risk of
stroke, heart
and death.

of Vermont physician Richard Solomon, MD, and his colleagues investigated
294 patients with kidney disease who were exposed to contrast agents
during cardiac angiography. Patients in this study, dubbed the CARE
(Cardiac Angiography in REnally Impaired Patients) trial, were randomly
divided with half receiving the contrast agent iopamidol and the
other receiving the contrast agent iodixanol.

Many medical
imaging techniques, including cardiac angiography and CT
, often involve the use of contrast agents, substances
that contain iodine (like iopamidol and iodixanol) and barium, because
they enhance the contrast between body structures or fluids within
the body. This allows blood vessels and changes in tissues to be
more clearly visualized.

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22, 2009

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