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Siemens Launches SIERRA Dose Reduction Initiative in Computed Tomography

Siemens HealthcareIn a continual commitment to patient care and radiation reduction in computed tomography (CT), Siemens Healthcare has launched SIERRA (Siemens Radiation Reduction Alliance) and has established an expert panel to advance the cause of dose reduction in CT. The new Low Dose Expert Panel includes 15 specialists in radiology, cardiology and physics, who are internationally recognized for their publications on the subject of CT dose. The panel’s objective is to generate proposals for how manufacturers may continue to develop their technology and to help users better adapt their procedures in order to bring about further dose reduction in CT. One of the most important suggestions from the first meeting of the Low Dose Expert Panel in May concerns methods to increase utilization in clinical practice of the many CT dose reduction technologies that are already available.

"Our aim as a leading innovator in the field of computed tomography is to reduce radiation exposure for all typical CT examinations below 2 mSv, which is as low as the average annual dose due to naturally occurring background radiation. We are committed to doing everything we can to help our customers reduce doses in CT without compromising the diagnostic quality of the examination in any way," said Sami Atiya, PhD, CEO, Computed Tomography, Siemens Healthcare. "With this in mind, we want to work with experts to develop concrete proposals on dose reduction and, therefore, launched Siemens Radiation Reduction Alliance, SIERRA."

Excellent image quality is vital in CT, but it is also important to keep the patient’s radiation exposure as low as possible. Siemens Healthcare has already introduced a wide range of measures to help its customers consistently achieve this goal. Now, Siemens wants to take on a more active role in this field and has convened a panel of experts expressly to develop new ideas for dose reduction in CT.

"One of our hopes for the Low Dose Expert Panel is that it will be able to generate concrete proposals as to how we might integrate existing technologies for dose reduction more effectively into clinical practice. Producing recommendations to guide manufacturers in their development of new innovations for dose reduction is another important goal for this panel," Atiya explained.

Already at its first round of discussions last month May, the Low Dose Expert Panel identified several action items:

  • To establish a baseline of dose levels for the ten most commonly performed CT exams, the group agreed to establish and contribute to an international, multi-institutional dose registry. As a next step the values obtained can help to establish reference doses, with the potential to dramatically lower radiation exposure in clinical practice.
  • The participating renowned institutions will share their CT scan protocols for the 10 most commonly performed examinations on a central Web site as a first step to promote best practice sharing in the field.
  • Siemens will develop a dedicated low dose educational program in close collaboration with the involved institutions. Trainers specializing in dose reduction technology will be available to work with customers to train personnel, optimize scan protocols and implement dose reduction procedures.

"Radiation dose from medical imaging has historically received much greater attention in Europe than in other parts of the world, where radiation exposure only recently has become a topic of discussion," said U. Joseph Schoepf, MD, professor and director of CT Research and Development at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charlottesville. "On that background, Siemens has several decades of experience in the implementation of radiation reduction strategies and has a longstanding, successful track record of providing their customers with tools that deliver optimal image quality at the lowest possible radiation dose. Most of the technical features and mechanisms for radiation reduction which regulatory bodies currently consider making mandatory in the U.S. have been part of their standard portfolio and implemented in their products for many years. I am happy and proud to embark on this initiative together with Siemens and my colleagues from around the globe in order to ensure that these powerful tools are used to their fullest extent. With this endeavor we can make a difference and show to the world that we do get the message, that we can indeed change, and slash radiation dose without sacrificing diagnostic quality."

"I see users operating CT scanners in everyday applications without taking full advantage of the possibilities available to them to strike the optimal balance between image quality and radiation dose. The answer, in my opinion, involves a significant amount of training across a wide range of areas. I want to see users at more and more institutions receive the advanced training they need in order to make best use of the options available, and this will be the main objective of my work on the panel," says Cynthia McCollough, PhD, a medical physicist from Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

"We have made great advances in optimizing pediatric radiation doses, but dose reduction optimization remains a work in progress. Advances in technology and capabilities of CT scanners will continue to evolve and improve our ability to diagnose disease. These advances will mandate new scanning protocols and continuing education for users. By collaborating with industry, we can optimize CT scanning in children even further and continue to improve patient care. I am delighted to join Siemens in an initiative to develop protocols and integrate new technologies into clinical practice," says Marilyn Siegel, MD, from the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology in St. Louis.

The Low Dose Expert Panel will meet twice a year to discuss new ideas and investigate whether measures already agreed upon are having a positive impact. Siemens intends to use the discussions to spur the development of new features for its CT scanners and new training programs for its customers.

The panel's members are:

Hatem Alkadhi, MD, University Hospital Zürich, Switzerland

Christoph Becker, MD, Ludwig Maximilian University, Germany

Elliot Fishman, MD, Johns Hopkins University, U.S.

Donald Frush, MD, Duke University, U.S.

Jörg Hausleiter, MD, German Heart Center Munich, Germany

Willi Kalender, PhD, University of Erlangen, Germany

Harold Litt, MD-PhD, University of Pennsylvania, U.S.

Cynthia McCollough, PhD, Mayo Clinic, U.S.

Alec Megibow, MD, NYU-Langone Medical Center, U.S.

Michael Recht, MD, NYU-Langone Medical Center, U.S.

Dushyant Sahani, MD, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, U.S.

U. Joseph Schoepf, MD, Medical University of South Carolina, U.S.

Marilyn Siegel, MD, Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology, U.S.

Aaron Sodickson, MD-PhD, Brigham and Women's Hospital, U.S.

Kheng-Thye Ho, MD, Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Singapore

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About Siemens Healthcare
The Siemens Healthcare Sector is one of the world's largest suppliers to the healthcare industry and a trendsetter in medical imaging, laboratory diagnostics, medical information technology and hearing aids. Siemens offers its customers products and solutions for the entire range of patient care from a single source - from prevention and early detection to diagnosis, and on to treatment and aftercare. By optimizing clinical workflows for the most common diseases, Siemens also makes healthcare faster, better and more cost-effective. Siemens Healthcare employs some 48,000 employees worldwide and operates around the world. In fiscal year 2009 (to September 30), the Sector posted revenue of 11.9 billion euros and profit of around 1.5 billion euros. For further information please visit: http://www.siemens.com/healthcare.

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