The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wants to answer no with confidence to precisely this question and has scheduled hearings the end of March about ways to implement more effective safeguards when radiation is used in medical imaging procedures, according to a story reported by HealthDay News.

The FDA said the goal of the hearings is to “help reduce patient exposure to ionizing radiation” during these procedures.

Currently, four medical imaging procedures contribute to most of the radiation Americans are exposed to:

1.) CT scans (a.k.a. computed tomography) include a series of X-rays that show internal injuries by creating a cross-section of bone and tissue.
2.) Fluoroscopy X-rays often use dyes to show a continuous image, such as those used in blood flow, gastrointestinal and heart procedures.
3.) Radiography uses X-rays to see whether foreign objects are in the body and whether there’s any internal structural damage; it’s often used in dental, orthopedic and chiropractic exams.
4.) Mammography X-rays produce breast imaging to detect cancer.

Many doctors, like Jorge Guerra Jr., MD, a professor of radiology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, believe that the benefits of radiation imaging procedures far outweigh the increased risk of cancer they create.

But Guerra stressed the dangers of overusing the procedures. He also stated in the HealthDay article that there’s a need for quality equipment manned by skilled professionals and clearer guidelines for the use of medical imaging devices.

Julian Nicholas, MD, a gastroenterologist, also warned against the FDA rushing to approve imaging devices that could expose Americans to unwarranted radiation risks.

Previously, the FDA said that medical imaging benefits are valuable because they provide early disease diagnoses and better treatment options that help save lives.

Nevertheless, the agency urged both doctors and patients to remember that the bottom line to increasing safeguards is that each procedure must be warranted and the radiation dose must be the absolute minimum required.

Click here to read about how docs use bone scans to make prostate cancer diagnoses.