Project description

Facts and figures

Acronym:
MEDIRAD
Start date: 
June 1, 2017
Duration: 
48 months
End date: 
May 31, 2021
Project coordinator: 
European Institute for Biomedical Imaging Research (EIBIR), Austria
Consortium: 
33 partners - major universities, research institutes and clinical partners from 14 countries
Total funding: 
€ 9,995,145.75


MEDIRAD’s context

The evolution of medical science and the growing pace of innovation and deployment of medical technology have led to a situation where most of the artificial ionising radiation exposure of the European population is created by diagnostic imaging or radiotherapy procedures.

The use of ionising radiation in medicine has been steadily increasing, and this trend is set to continue, with obvious health benefits for the population thanks to improved diagnostic and therapy technologies. However, the increasing use of new modalities both for diagnosis and treatment also raises a number of issues in radiological protection of patients and medical workers, as the population’s average medical exposure levels are continually rising.

Although most of these exposures result in low to moderate doses in most tissues, there is a need to evaluate the health effects of these exposures, optimise practices to reduce doses and develop dose evaluation tools that can be used in clinical practice to ensure adequate and improved radiation protection of patients and medical personnel. Whilst patient RP has been a constant concern of physicians, and regulated by the competent authorities, some specific scientific questions arise in this context, which RP research has not addressed before, at least successfully.

Objectives

MEDIRAD aims to enhance the scientific bases and clinical practice of radiation protection in the medical field and thereby addresses the need to better understand and evaluate the health effects of low-dose ionising radiation exposure from diagnostic and therapeutic imaging and from off-target effects in radiotherapy.

This will be achieved by focusing on three major operational objectives:

  1. Improvement of organ dose estimation and registration in order to a) inform clinical practice, optimise doses and set recommendations and b) provide adequate dosimetry for clinical-epidemiological studies of effects of medical radiation.
  2. Evaluation of the effects of medical exposures, focusing on the two major endpoints and exposure conditions of public health and clinical relevance:
    • Cardiovascular effects of low to moderate doses of radiation from radiotherapy including understanding of mechanisms
    • Long term effects of low doses from higher dose radiological procedures on the risk of cancer
  3. Development of science-based policy recommendations for decision-makers and practitioners for the effective protection of patients, workers and the general public.

Impacts

The expected impacts of the MEDIRAD Project are briefly described in the following.

  • Additional and improved practical measures for the effective protection of people in the medical and nuclear sectors are MEDIRAD’s long-term impact;
  • Significant progress in the interaction between the RP and medical scientific communities at EU level, leading to cross-fertilisation of research efforts and the provision of more consolidated and robust science-based policy recommendations to decision makers in the respective sectors;
  • A better evaluation of the risks from radiation and better quantification of the necessary precautionary measures, leading to a more robust system of protection of patients, workers and the general public, whilst not unduly penalising activities through unnecessary and costly measures;
  • Modification of public perception of risks associated with IR thanks to the results of such combined nuclear and medical research;
  • Finally, the involvement of different stakeholders in the development and validation of the MEDIRAD recommendations will have an impact on the capability of stakeholder representatives to participate better in Europe-wide dialogues about future research planning, expressing relevant societal priorities and needs which can be embedded in European Research Roadmaps developed in the frame of other EU projects, such as the EURATOM EJP CONCERT.