Using breast shields will reduce radiation damage to the breast tissue in men and women who undergo CT scans of the chest, according to a new study. This small metallic piece does not affect the diagnosis, according to researchers. “This may reduce the radiation to the breast tissues by about 30%”, says Terry Healey, MD, director of thoracic radiation at Alpert Medical School of Brown University in Providence. “Protecting the breast tissue is important because radiation may result in secondary cancers of the breast”, adds Healey. The results of the study were presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.
Many doctors are reluctant to use the shield during the scan, as it may cause small streaks or lines on the images. “This may make it harder to interpret, and it can affect the accuracy of the diagnosis”, says Healey.
In this study, Healey and colleagues examined about 50 people who had a chest CT scan before and after the use of breast shields. Most of the scans were for the detection of cancer or lung nodules. The shield was placed directly on the chest, or kept slightly raised on the chest. “About two-thirds of the images had streaks or other lines, but none of them affected the diagnosis”, reports Healey.
Judy Yee, MD, vice chair of radiology at the University of California, San Francisco, agrees that it is better to use the shield, as the cost is low and provides good benefits. The shields are beneficial for younger people who are more prone to radiation damage, and women who have a higher risk of developing breast cancer.