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Br Med J. 1976 May 29; 1(6021): 1333–1335.
PMCID: PMC1640313

Routine preoperative chest radiography in non-cardiopulmonary surgery.


Preoperative radiography was performed on 667 consecutive patients undergoing elective non-cardiopulmonary surgery in a large hospital in Wales. Of all significant findings reported 54% were due to cardiomegaly and 19% to chronic respiratory disease, and no appreciable abnormality was found in any patient under 30. Out of a subsample of 152 examined prospectively, 38% had received a chest radiograph within the last year, and the maximum marrow dose had been exceeded in 12-5%. It is concluded that the procedure, as presently practised, is not only being considerably overused but is also exposing many recipients to the potentially harmful effects of over-irradiation. The findings provide further evidence in support of the Royal College of Radiologists' proposal that a national multicentre study of diagnostic radiology should be set up with some urgency.

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