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Dr K K Aggarwal

Repeated CT scans are risky to life

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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CT scan involves x ray radiation and can be harmful to the body. Unless it is essential for any diagnostic procedure one should not undergo repeated CT scans on annual basis for diagnosis of certain cancers. On the other hand ultrasound and MRI are safe and carry no radiations. Experts have said that MRI and CT scan are not interchangeable diagnostic procedures. Contrast imaging which was earlier used with x ray is now available for ultrasound and echocardiography. Thirty percent of patients do not have a good heart window of routine echocardiography. In these cases using special ultrasound contrast can prevent angiography and other cath procedures.

One-third of people getting a CT scan are not aware that the test carries radiation risk and future cancer.

The risk of cancer depends on how many scans a patient gets and which organs are exposed to CT radiation.

CT scans are high-powered X-rays that provide clearer images but expose patients to between ten and 100 times more radiation than a normal head or chest X-ray.

The radiation dose from one CT scans typically ranges from a couple of millisieverts – comparable to the yearly background radiation from natural sources – to close to 20 millisieverts, the annual exposure limit for nuclear industry employees.

Although each scan only has a small impact on a person’s long term risk of cancer, that risk can build over time with more scans and more radiation exposure. For examples repeated ct scans are being dine in kidney stones, nasal sinuses or for dementia without reasons.

As per JAMA there would be about 29,000 future cancers related to scans done in 2007 alone. That year, Americans had about 72 million total CT scans.