Medical radiation: uses, dose measurements and safety advice

The use of ionising radiation in medicine, including recommended dose measurements and guidance on safe radiology practice.

Ionising radiation is used in medicine in 3 ways:

  • diagnostic radiology, which uses x-ray machines to obtain images of the inside of the patient’s body
  • nuclear medicine, which uses radioactive substances introduced into the patient for diagnosis or treatment
  • radiotherapy, which uses many types and sources of ionising radiation to cure or relieve symptoms of cancer and other diseases

These 3 areas are covered by the Ionising Radiation (Medical Exposure) Regulations 2017, which provide a framework to protect patients.

Guidance on the practical implementation of the ionising radiation (medical exposure) regulations for diagnostic and interventional radiology, was produced in a collaboration between the Society and College of Radiographers, The Royal College of Radiologists and the British Institute of Radiology. Staff from Public Health England were substantially involved in its development. The guidance is relevant for all staff groups working in diagnostic and interventional radiology, including radiographers, radiologists and radiology managers and includes practical examples of scenarios covering the implementation of the regulations.

Medical radiation: risks and safety advice

Diagnostic radiology

Nuclear medicine

There’s a dedicated committee, Administration of Radioactive Substances Advisory Committee (ARSAC), to advise the government on nuclear medicine.


Published 1 August 2014
Last updated 22 December 2016 + show all updates
  1. Added: Development of learning from radiotherapy errors.

  2. Added Medical radiation: national diagnostic reference levels (NDRLs), based on existing research.

  3. The 'Safer radiotherapy: supplementary survey analysis' has been added under 'Radiotherapy'.

  4. The 'Doses from computed tomography (CT) examinations in the UK report' has been uploaded.

  5. First published.