September 1986

Radiation Risks in Medical Imaging,

Author Affiliations

Salt Lake City


by J. Whalen, 133 pp, $24.95, Chicago, Year Book Medical Publishers Inc, 1984.

Arch Intern Med. 1986;146(9):1665. doi:10.1001/archinte.1986.00360210025001

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This is a relatively short book designed specifically to help medical practitioners assess the risk of radiation exposure from diagnostic use of roentgenograms and radionuclides and to answer patients' questions as to the cancer and fetal risks involved.

This book achieves these objectives in a concise, clear, and well-written manner. It reviews the physics and biology of ionizing radiation, and includes short sections on ultrasound and nuclear magnetic resonance imaging. Risk estimates from the BEIR-III report by the National Academy of Sciences are used throughout. This is the best current source. Higher-risk estimates made by Gofman, however, are dismissed on the basis of the anticipated result of a study that has not yet been performed. Although the problems and uncertainties in risk estimates must be mentioned, they tend to be overemphasized in this book. The author emphasizes that even though the risk of cancer from most diagnostic procedures is very

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