ASN promotes initiatives in favour of justifying imaging examinations in France

Published on 18/11/2019 • 03:24 pm

Information notice

In France, medical applications represent the primary source of artificial exposure of the public to ionising radiation. This exposure is rising, mainly owing to the increasing number of computed tomography examinations.

Imaging examinations have proven their benefits for both diagnosis and treatment. The issue at stake however is to avoid examinations that are not really necessary or that offer no real benefit for the patients and the results of which could be obtained by other available, non-irradiating techniques.

To coincide with the International Day of Radiology on 8 November 2019, a campaign was launched in 19 European countries to make health professionals more aware of the appropriate use of medical imaging examinations. ASN is a participant in this initiative by HERCA (Heads of the European Radiological Protection Competent Authorities). On the website, it lists the resources promoting the justification and pertinence of imaging examinations in France, made available to patients and health professionals by the various institutions, learned societies and patient or user associations.

Justification lies at the heart of each of the two action plans to control the doses delivered to patients during medical imaging, which were drawn up by ASN in 2011 and 2018, in consultation with the departments of the Ministry for Solidarity and Health and with the health professionals. As the first principle of radiation protection enshrined in the Public Health Code, justification aims to ensure that the patient derives benefit from the examination, as compared with the risks inherent in exposure to ionising radiation. It is similar to the medical notion of pertinence, which aims to carry out "the right procedure for the right patient, at the right time”, taking account of the trade-off between benefits and risks.


HERCA is a voluntary association in which the heads of radiation protection authorities work together in order to identify common issues and propose practical solutions for these issues. HERCA’s current fields of activity include medical and veterinary applications, emergency preparedness and response, radon and naturally occurring radioactive materials as well as research and industrial sources and practices. HERCA brings together 56 radiation protection Authorities from 32 European countries.

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Date of last update : 18/11/2019