Answer to Question #12948 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"

Category: Medical and Dental Patient Issues — Diagnostic X Ray and CT

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


What is the chest x-ray dose for a thin adult?


A chest x ray is a low dose procedure. If a single radiograph is taken with the patient's back towards the x-ray tube (posteroanterior study, or PA for short), typical effective doses are 0.02 millisieverts (mSv) with doses reported in the literature ranging from 0.007 mSv  to 0.05 mSv. Because lower settings can be used, the effective dose from a PA chest radiograph to a "thin adult" would likely be less than typical. 

Sometimes chest studies include an image taken from the side, called a lateral view (LAT). If a chest study was performed that included both a PA and an LAT, the typical effective dose is 0.1 mSv with doses reported in the literature from 0.05 mSv to 0.24 mSv. Again, the effective dose from a PA and lateral chest radiograph to a thin adult would likely be lower than typical. 

These are low doses—the same dose would be received from naturally occurring radiation in the environment in about three days for the PA chest radiograph and 12 days for the PA and LAT chest radiographs, respectively. 

Kent Lambert, CHP, FHPS

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.
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