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14.10.2019 | original article | Ausgabe 19-20/2020

Wiener klinische Wochenschrift 19-20/2020

Medical radiation exposure from radiological and interventional procedures in Austria

Wiener klinische Wochenschrift > Ausgabe 19-20/2020
David Wachabauer, Stefan Mathis-Edenhofer, Hanns Moshammer
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The aim of the study was to systematically evaluate the frequency of diagnostic and interventional X‑ray procedures and the corresponding population exposure in Austria.

Data and methods

A methodology based on 107 selected procedures was adopted in accordance with European Commission recommendations. Frequencies were calculated based on an Austrian nationwide standardized database for the outpatient and inpatient sectors. The collective effective dose was estimated by linking the procedure frequencies to results from previous studies on doses per procedure and correction factors from the European Commission.


In Austria, 1468 diagnostic and interventional X‑ray procedures per 1000 inhabitants were conducted in 2015. Plain radiography procedures were performed most frequently, with approximately 40% being dental radiographs. The estimated extrapolated collective effective dose for 2015 was approximately 12,890 man-sievert (1.5 mSv per head). Although computed tomography only constitutes about 11% of the total number of procedures, its contribution to the collective effective dose is by far the largest at 74%, followed by plain radiography at almost 10%.


This study provides a comprehensive estimate of procedure frequencies in Austria based on annually available, routinely collected data and of the corresponding collective effective dose. The results show that the frequency of computed tomography in Austria more than doubled within the last 14 years and is high compared to Germany and Switzerland. As in other countries, computed tomography is the largest contributor to the collective effective dose, identifying it as an area that deserves special attention for dose optimization.

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