TUESDAY, May 3 (HealthDay News) -- A new study suggests that eliminating the pelvis from areas of the lower body that are scanned when looking for blood clots would not lessen the effectiveness of the test but would significantly reduce the exposure to radiation.

The imaging test, called CT venography, checks for a venous thromboembolism, or a blood clot in the veins. Such clots usually form in the legs. It's critical to locate and treat any clots before they can migrate to the lungs, where they can be life-threatening.

But it does not truly aid the diagnosis to include the pelvis in the scanning, according to the researchers, who were to present their findings Tuesday in Chicago at the annual meeting of the American Roentgen Ray Society.

The study involved an analysis of data on 1,527 people who were examined for venous thromboembolism at the Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow, N.Y., during a three-year period. In those exams, just five people -- 0.3 percent -- were found to have isolated pelvic VTE, according to the study.

Dr. Charbel Ishak, the study's lead author, said that the finding should help radiologists implement new protocols for pelvic examinations that would reduce patients' exposure to radiation.

"Radiologists and technologists can eliminate pelvic imaging while acquiring only images of the lower extremities with CT venography, starting from groin to below the knee," he said in a news release from the society. "We believe that by stopping the imaging of the pelvis, we can decrease patient radiation dose without significantly affecting the diagnosis of VTE."

Experts note that research presented at a meeting should be considered preliminary because it has not been subjected to the rigorous scrutiny given to research published in medical journals.

More information

The Coalition to Prevent VTE has more about venous thromboembolism.