Answer to Question #13626 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"
The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:
Due to an underlying problem, I had to have two abdomen CT scans and a CT of my brain in the past five years. Should I be worried about the risk from the radiation associated with so many CT scans?
Many patients are worried about the radiation dose from CT scans. I want to reassure you that the risk from the CT scans is too low to measure and may not exist. Our cells are very good at repairing damage caused by radiation or other factors. We are all exposed to natural background radiation, as well as chemicals every day and our bodies repair the damage really well. Even though we are receiving more radiation during our lives, because of the use of CT scans and other medical imaging, we are expected to live longer in part because of the improved medical care possible with the new imaging technologies.
If you need additional CT scans in the future, you should discuss the risks and benefits of the scans with your physician. It is important to recognize that there can be risks due to a decision not to have the CT scan, such as the need for a more invasive procedure or failure to catch disease at a more treatable stage. Your physician should be able to discuss the options and the risks of each with you.
You should not be concerned about the radiation you have received from CT scans. The risk is very, very low or zero and there is a definite benefit from getting the right diagnosis and treatment. For more information feel free to consult the Health Physics Society position statement on Radiation Risk in Perspective.
Deirdre H. Elder, MS, CHP, CMLSO