Make no mistake, Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis (NSF), a horrible (and thankfully very rare) disease which can afflict persons with significantly impaired kidney function who receive certain gadolinium based MRI contrast agents. Over the past few years, tremendous resources have been poured into the identification of patients, research on the specific mechanisms of disease, and effective means of prevention. NSF has run into a problem, however, which has dramatically curtailed further research… we’ve darn-near eliminated this disease!
Here we sit, on the cusp of mandatory accreditation for ‘Advanced Imaging’ modalities at outpatient providers (these are CT, MRI and PET), and a series of articles on medical radiation exposure splashes across the New York Times.
In nearly concurrent moves, the Joint Commission (JC) unveils their just-developed Advanced Imaging (AI) accreditation program, the FDA is clamoring for new authority to regulate medical device safety (or gearing-up to use authority that it’s been hiding for safe-keeping, that isn’t exactly clear to me), the US Congress whips together a set of hearings on the issue, and, at those hearings, the American College of Radiology (ACR) recommends that the Feds expand the scope of the AI accreditation requirement to include radiation therapy and to apply the expanded accreditation requirements to hospitals, too.
Whew, that’s a lot of ground covered for radiology in just the last few weeks! Wait a minute… who is that sitting in the backseat? Who has been drug through all of the hullabaloo about radiation exposure and patient safety without once having been considered, individually? MRI, that’s who.