If you’re thinking about getting a CT scan, you should be aware of some dangers. A computed tomography (CT) machine exposes you to radiation, which can cause serious health issues. To avoid these dangers, it’s important to understand how these machines work and learn how to reduce your exposure without sacrificing the quality of your images.
The detection of tumors on CT scans has helped improve our understanding of cancer and treatment. However, it is also associated with radiation danger. While the benefits of imaging are well worth it, the risks are not.
In fact, studies suggest that a single CT scan is rarely cause for concern. But, if you have a chronic condition, you may want to think about a lower-dose imaging approach. And if you have a history of allergies, tell your care team before receiving contrast.
The use of imaging has improved diagnoses and helped a number of patients avoid exploratory surgery. But there are concerns that its misuse is a contributing factor to rising costs.
The National Cancer Institute estimates that the chance of being diagnosed with fatal cancer is about one in 2,000 from a CT scan. That risk is smaller than the estimated risks of radiation exposure.
However, even low doses of radiation have not been proven to cause long-term harm. It’s possible that you might have been exposed to radiation decades ago.
There are many ways to detect tumors on CT scans. Some are faster and better than others.
MRI, which uses magnets and radio waves, is an alternative. PET scans use a combination of these technologies. This type of test can determine the stage of cancer and whether the treatment is working.
X-rays also have the power to identify tumors. While they are not as effective at detecting some types of cancer, they can be a valuable diagnostic tool.
Another diagnostic tool is nuclear imaging. These are relatively painless tests that can detect tumors and can help determine the effectiveness of treatments.
Detecting heart blockages
A cardiac CT scan can detect heart blockages. This is an important test because blockages can lead to a heart attack. If you think you might have a blockage, talk with your doctor.
CT is a procedure that uses x-rays to produce detailed pictures. It is a non-invasive way of detecting blockages. However, it can expose you to radiation. In addition, there is a risk of an X-ray reaction.
During the scan, you will lie on a special table inside the CT scanner. The technician will insert an IV line into your arm vein. An injection of a contrast agent will help show blood vessels on the scan.
When the dye is injected, you may experience a temporary metallic taste in your mouth. You can drink more water to speed up the removal of the dye.
If the scan finds a blockage, your physician will explain the results. You can then resume normal activities. Occasionally, you will need to take medicine to slow your heart rate.
The results of the scan are entered into your medical record. After you have completed the procedure, your cardiologist will talk to you about the results.
Some studies have shown that people who have a negative CT scan have a low risk of heart problems in the next five years. This is important because it means you can detect blockages and avoid having a heart attack.
People with asthma or lung disease may experience breathing difficulties during the scan. For those who have heart failure, they may need to take medicines to slow their heart rate.
While CT scans are a helpful tool for detecting heart blockages, they are not a replacement for a more invasive test, such as a coronary angiogram.
Treating stomach pain to headaches
Although it’s not a slam dunk, the CT scan ol’ stuff will do your head a few favors. The big three are headaches, insomnia and moodiness. It’s no secret that the latter two are difficult to treat. While the former can be treated with anti-depressants and a good deal of patience, the latter is an absolute no-no. Of course, you’ll need to take your meds on a regular basis in order to avoid the post-op malaise. But, as long as you are diligent about your diet, your symptoms will likely subside or at least be managed in a relatively short time.
However, there are more important things to do than to think about. Luckily, there are a few things you can do, and several things you can’t.
Reducing radiation doses without reducing image quality
If you are looking for ways to reduce radiation doses, you may be surprised to find that a number of relatively inexpensive interventions can actually result in greater dose reductions than more complex approaches. In addition, these techniques can be implemented by clinicians and patients without compromising the quality of images.
One of the most effective approaches for reducing radiation doses involves improving the protocols used for CT imaging. This may include adjusting technical settings of the imaging protocol and implementing advanced automatic exposure control. For example, by decreasing the tube current, the number of x-rays produced and the amount of scattered radiation can be reduced.
Another intervention is to use better software techniques to optimize image quality. Advanced adaptive image filters make adjustments to the processing of the image to decrease the dose. These products can be used by all patients and deliver previously unattainable levels of noise reduction.
Using an ultra-low-dose-protocol (ULDP) can also help minimize the amount of radiation the patient receives during a procedure. Compared with a standard low-dose-protocol, a ULDP has been shown to significantly lower the radiation exposure to patients. It also reduces the rate of exposure to proceduralists and scrub nurses.
Another way to optimize radiation doses is to participate in an online forum devoted to sharing best practices. This approach was found to be more effective than providing audit feedback alone.
The resulting data showed that participating in the collaborative learning community was associated with reduced high-dose examinations. In addition, a more detailed feedback report on the doses administered was associated with a reduced proportion of high-dose exams. Using multicomponent audit feedback and best practice sharing was found to be more effective than audit feedback alone.
If you’re getting a CT scan, the radiation danger is something you should definitely consider. In fact, there are several medical associations working to reduce the amount of radiation doctors and hospitals use.
Ionizing rays, such as X-rays, can damage DNA in cells. This increases the chance of cancer. Fortunately, there are newer detectors and cameras that can produce better images while using much less radiation.
The problem is that many people have multiple CT scans over their lifetime. Some studies have shown that as many as 1 percent of patients have had more than 38 scans. These are unnecessary. However, the risk of cancer from a single CT scan is relatively low.
Children’s bodies are also more sensitive to radiation. That’s why children may be at a higher risk from a CT procedure. A CT scan can identify acute problems. It can also help to avoid unnecessary surgery.
But if you’re worried about radiation, you should get a second opinion. Doctors are prone to underestimating the dangers of CT scans. You might find a doctor who doesn’t do the test.
If you’re concerned about the amount of radiation you’re getting from a CT scan, you can ask for a “low-dose” scan. This will decrease the radiation, but won’t impact the image quality.
Several radiologists say that standard x-rays are not dangerous. However, if you’re repeatedly exposed to radiation, you’re at risk for developing cancer. There is a wide range between a safe level of radiation and an unhealthy one.
To make sure you’re receiving the lowest dose possible, ask to see the “Dose Index Registry,” which records anonymous information about CT scans.