Answer to Question #10503 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"

Category: Pregnancy and Radiation — Conception after exposures

The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:


When my daughter-in-law was 18 years old, she had a Harrington rod inserted in her lumbar spine to correct scoliosis. She had numerous x rays, a myelogram, and fluoroscopy during surgery. She is now 30 years old and married. She would like to have children but is convinced that the risk of damage to her ovaries from all that x radiation means she risks having a damaged child even if she has not been rendered infertile. Is she right?


Thank you for using the Health Physics Society Ask the Expert webpage. Your daughter-in-law need not worry about the effects of the x-ray procedures on her ability to get pregnant or the effects on any children she may have. The dose necessary to cause sterility is much, much higher than the dose to the ovaries that your daughter-in-law received even considering that myelograms result in higher ovarian doses than many other radiographic procedures. Also, preconception parental radiation exposures are not linked with adverse reproductive outcomes, including miscarriage, neonatal death, and congenital abnormalities. You should know, however, that the inherent risk for birth defects is 3% for healthy young women with no reproductive problems or family history of reproductive problems.

Kent Lambert, CHP

Ask the Experts is posting answers using only SI (the International System of Units) in accordance with international practice. To convert these to traditional units we have prepared a conversion table. You can also view a diagram to help put the radiation information presented in this question and answer in perspective. Explanations of radiation terms can be found here.
Answer posted on 20 November 2012. The information posted on this web page is intended as general reference information only. Specific facts and circumstances may affect the applicability of concepts, materials, and information described herein. The information provided is not a substitute for professional advice and should not be relied upon in the absence of such professional advice. To the best of our knowledge, answers are correct at the time they are posted. Be advised that over time, requirements could change, new data could be made available, and Internet links could change, affecting the correctness of the answers. Answers are the professional opinions of the expert responding to each question; they do not necessarily represent the position of the Health Physics Society.