Knowledge For Better Life

CT Scans: Is it safe and What are its Radiation Levels?

Asian women are entering the brain with a Ct scan

Most Doctors advice for at least one master checkup once a year. The number of tests that are included in a master checkup keeps on rising every single year and so are the tests that involve radiations. Today have many types of scans and mammogram which send out radiations that penetrates our body. So you might be wondering what are the permitted levels for these radiations? Is it really safe to indulge in these tests more often? We will look into the answers

Are tests that involve radiations bad for our health?

We are exposed to radiations in our day to day life. Some of the common sources of these radiations include sunlight, TV, mobile phones, and mobile phone towers.

Radiations are measured in Milli-Sieverts – mSv. It is best to minimize the use of radiations as much as possible. Radiation exposure by itself is not harmful to you, it starts to take a toll on your health only when its levels reached beyond the acceptable range. Medically you can get exposed to around 50 mSv level radiation which will not impact your health in any way.

Do you know that radiations from sunlight, electronic gadgets we use on a daily basis, and industries etc.. all counts for only 3 mSv per year (approx). So taking a CT scan or X-ray when there is a need doesn’t harm you at all.

On an average, a person takes around 7 to 8 CT scans in his lifetime, and its radiation levels from all these scans only come to around 30 to 35 mSv. 

When to prevent radiation-based tests?

Doctors will advise against X-rays during pregnancy. It is strictly prohibited to take X-rays during first 7 weeks of pregnancy. If there is a real need for an X-ray test, then it can be done by putting on a lead apron over the midsection. Women, in general, can sometimes be unaware of the fact they are pregnant so, Doctors should ensure it before suggesting X-ray test on any women. 

Is it safe to take a yearly health checkup and mammogram?

Definitely yes. For the woman, mammogram test is carried along with X-rays, motion and urine test, ECG, and echo. These tests are totally safe and can be carried out once a year.

Mammogram is not carried out in women who are not older than 40 years. However, Doctors do advice it when he strongly suspects the possibility of a certain disease like cancer. Even then, most Doctors would opt for ultrasound scan for women younger than 30 years and stay away from mammogram for younger patients.

 

Mammogram test would be needed after the confirmation of a tumor or cyst

Is it safe for babies to undergo scans?

MRI scans help in detecting anatomical and functional changes in little ones. Most Doctors would usually opt against a scan during first three months of pregnancy unless otherwise it is really needed.

Radiation levels of scans

  • X-ray in the upper body – 0.1 mSv
  • CT-scan in upper body – 7 mSv
  • CT-scan in abdomen – 10 mSv
  • CT-scan for head – 2 mSv
  • CT-scan for brain – 2 mSv
  • CT scan for heart (coronary angiogram) – 12 mSv
  • Mammogram0.4 mSv
Ultrasound scans do not use any radiations, it is totally safe. Even MRI scans do not use any radiations. It is carried out using magnetic waves.

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