Patient-Doctor Communication is Key to Safety with Any Heart Imaging Test

From a young age, most of us have probably heard “Honesty is the best policy” and that is never truer than when you are visiting your doctor. Does he need to know every small facet of your personal life? No, but what your doctor does need to know are the things that could be affecting your health, mood or treatment plans. Doctors use symptoms along with your personal and familial history when they are making diagnoses or offering medical advice so it is critical that patients keep their physician informed and their answers honest.

It is ironic that people, more often than not, choose to lie to a person designated to help them. Maybe it is because of vanity, embarrassment or fear of judgment that keeps people misinforming their doctors but in the end, they are not only doing themselves a disservice but they are wasting their doctor’s time.

However, it isn’t only the patient’s responsibility to be honest, doctors must also keep a level of transparency with their patients. Undoubtedly, doctors explaining complicated surgeries and procedures may go over some patient’s head but when it comes to explaining risk, doctors should be as informative and honest as possible. One area that doctors need to begin clarifying the potential risk is around medical imaging procedures.

There are so much misinformation surrounding medical imaging and with all the advances and discoveries being made every year, it is easier for patients when their doctors explain the benefits and risks instead of attempting to do independent research. One area of medical imaging that has garnered recent attention from both patients and physicians is subjects regarding the heart imaging test. Any heart imaging test involving radiation presents a certain degree of risk but only through strong patient-doctor communication can this risk be mitigated.

According to a recent publication from the American Heart Association, “”Radiation-related risk is one of the factors that should be considered in the decision to use cardiovascular imaging with ionizing radiation, particularly in younger patients in whom the potential risk of radiation exposure is thought to be higher.”  The article also brings up a valid point in that because there is no federal regulation on the amount of radiation to be used in medical imaging tests, it is up to the healthcare provider to make the proper estimate. Many patients do not know these potential risks and side effects to overexposure to radiation. While this may sound alarmist to some, the chances of developing cancer due to medical imaging tests is extremely small and the benefits far outweigh the potential risks.

Medical imaging tests of the heart are now the most common way to determine the symptoms of heart disease, typically CTs and PET-CT scans. These exams, although extremely informative, still use small doses of radiation in order to create images.

At Doctors Imaging in Metairie, the machines that we use for imaging procedures is state-of-the-art equipment with the most recent updates. And the machinery that does operate with radiation is calibrated to the lowest possible setting that will still produce a viable image for a physician’s perusal. In addition to our equipment, prior to any procedure our technicians will consult with the patient in order to inform them of what is going to be taking place, questions about their health and answer any questions they may have.

If you have other questions, please either contact us online via this form, or call our experts at 504-883-8111.

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