In 2019, 178 million new cases of orthopedic fractures were registered around the world, says an August 2021 article in the Lancet. Fractures are among the most-common injuries among children, adults, and the elderly, which is why X-ray departments witness a consistently high footfall. X-ray is a type of radioactive light that penetrates the skin, soft tissues, and bones at different rates, thereby helping in imaging the bones for fractures and other structural defects. Hence, with the increasing number of people with bone issues, the X-ray volume is growing.
This is why PS Intelligence expects the radiation dose management (RDM) market value to increase significantly in the coming years. X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, positron emission tomography (PET) scans, and single positron emission CT (SPECT) scans all expose the human body to radiation. Although necessary to view the internal anatomy, continuous exposure to high amounts of radioactive light can cause radiation sickness, the symptoms of which include vomiting with or without blood, nausea, headache, diarrhea, dizziness, disorientation, fever, hair loss, fatigue, hair loss, hypotension, and infections.
In extreme cases, high doses of radiation can lead to cell mutation and, eventually, cancer! This is why stringent guidelines are being implemented on hospitals and diagnostic imaging centers worldwide to check the amount of radiation patients, visitors, and doctors are exposed to. As per the American Cancer Society, an average person in the U.S. is exposed to 3 millisieverts (mSv) of natural radiation in a year. Compared to this, a CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis exposes the human body to 7.7 mSv, which is equal to what someone would get over 2.5 years naturally.
Similarly, the average effective radiation values of a colon CT, spinal CT, chest CT, coronary CT angiography (CTA), non-cardiac CTA, and whole-body PET/CT scans are 6 mSv, 8.8 mSv, 6.1 mSv, 8.7 mSv, 5.1 mSv, and 22.9 mSv, respectively. These are the values for a single procedure, and since multiple such procedures are conducted on people with chronic diseases over a year, the combined values are huge. This raises the risk of radiation sickness and other severe associated medical issues by a significant margin, which is why entities that conduct radiograms are rapidly adopting RDM software.
This is primarily driven by the host of regulations in place to keep the effective radiation dose to harmless amounts. For instance, all X-ray devices being used for medical purposes in India must be licensed by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) after demonstrating compliance with the mandated radiation exposure values. Similarly, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have stringent guidelines in this regard.
Among the various types of radiological imaging equipment that need RDM, including CT, nuclear medicine (PET/PET–CT/SPECT), fluoroscopy interventional imaging, and radiography mammography, these solutions are integrated at the highest rate into CT systems. This is because unlike an X-ray procedure, wherein just one image is taken at a time and the duration for which the body is exposed to radiation is a few milliseconds, CT is a long procedure, with radiation penetrating the body from all sides. For instance, compared to the 0.1mSv effective radiation of a chest X-ray, a CT scan of the same area exposes the body to 6.1 mSv!
Thus, due to the stringent RDM guidelines in place, North America has dominated the radiation dose management market till now. This is also attributed to the high prevalence of chronic diseases, especially cancers and heart diseases, in the region, which leads to a high volume of radiological imaging procedures each day. Moreover, many of the radiological equipment and RDM software companies are headquartered here, which allows for the easy access to these solutions.
Hence, with the increasing awareness on the ill-effects of radiation, the demand for RDM software and services will rise.