Given the alarming trend of obesity and the long list of associated health risks, it is no surprise that an increasing number of overweight and obese individuals are entering radiology clinics. Most medical imaging equipment, however, is designed with people of an average build in mind and not for overweight and obese patients. As a result, they are exposed to higher levels of radiation during routine X-ray and CT scans.
A few years ago, researchers at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute were the first to calculate exactly how much additional radiation obese patients receive when undergoing a routine CT scan.
A scan of the chest, abdomen and pelvic area of obese patients showed that organs deep within the abdomen received 59% less radiation compared to normal weight patients. Because of the additional fat layers, when regular settings on the scanners were set, blurry images were produced. So, in order to assure there were enough x-ray photons passing through the body to form a good image, the power had to be turned up.
To get good images from obese patients, the RPI study results showed that the