Experts at the American College of Radiologists have warned doctors against exposing patients to CT scans unnecessarily because the use of X-ray technology increases the risk of cancer.
They suggest that the amount of radiation that patients are exposed to during CT scans may in some cases be equivalent to that received by some survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs.
According to some estimates, the radiation exposure a patient receives from a full-body CT scan is often 500 times that of a conventional X-ray and about the same as that received by people living 2.4 kilometres away from the centres of the World War II atomic blasts in Japan.
The researchers say that a CT scan might increase a person's risk of cancer by about 0.05 per cent, although experts stress that on average a person's lifetime risk of cancer is about 20 per cent.
They, however, agree that correct use of such scans can save lives.
A report compiled by the institution recommends that medical students should receive mandatory training on the use of CT scans.
It also stressed the need of conveying the risks of the scanning techniques to the public.
"We're concerned and we're aware of it," New Scientist quoted Arl Van Moore, chair of the ACR, as saying.