Answer to Question #2804 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"
The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:
I just had a chest CT and am worried about the effect on my baby. I am 15 weeks pregnant (13 weeks fetal age) and they thought I might be having a clot in my lung, so they did the chest CT. Will this have any impact on my baby? They put two layers of lead shields on my pelvic region and said the x rays were only shot above that part anyway (my lungs). My concern is the iodine stuff they put in my veins. I didn't realize that was radioactive. I drank tons of water today to try to flush it out of my system. Will that hurt the baby?
There should be no effects from the chest CT scan. The risks to the baby are minimal, if any, when x rays are taken of areas other than the abdomen. This is because the x-ray beam is focused only on the area of interest in order to minimize doses to other areas of the body. When you receive a diagnostic x-ray study of your head, teeth, chest, arms, or legs at a qualified facility, the exposure of the x rays is not to your baby. The "scatter" that might reach the baby would be extremely small and would not represent an increased risk for birth defects or miscarriage to your embryo.
As for the iodine that was used, it is not radioactive. It is used as a contrast agent—meaning that the doctors were able to see some areas within the body better with this contrast agent in them. For some additional information, you can visit the Web site Prenatal Risk Assessment, Keeping Your Unborn Baby Healthy Through Prevention.
Kelly Classic, Certified Medical Health Physicist
Answer posted on 29 July 2003. The information and material posted on this website is intended as general reference information only. Specific facts and circumstances may alter the concepts and applications of 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 specific to whatever facts and circumstances are presented in any given situation. Answers are correct at the time they are posted on the website. Be advised that over time, some requirements could change, new data could be made available, or Internet links could change. For answers that have been posted for several months or longer, please check the current status of the posted information prior to using the responses for specific applications.
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