Posted by: Chris Maloney | April 12, 2011

Ionizing Radiation: Where Children Are Truly At Risk.

A composite image of several background radiat...

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We have a radiation crisis in the U.S.!  No, it has nothing to do with Japan.  It has to do with our overuse of CT scanning for every bump and bruise.  When you question all the Emergency Room doctors about radiation risks from scanning, they all agree that you should be informed.  But most of them are unclear about the radiation risks themselves.  So most of them underestimate (by a factor of ten or more) the amount of radiation you are exposed to from a CT scan (way more than a chest X-ray).  The radiologists know that multiple CT scans do increase your chances of getting cancer in your lifetime.  But they are following the ER doctors’ orders.  Patients, not surprisingly, completely underestimate their risks of getting cancer from getting multiple scans.  The children are the worst hit, because many of them receive adult doses of radiation even though 1)it’s completely unnecessary and 2) it really increases their risk because they will live longer and have much smaller bodies to absorb the radiation. 

Two CT scans (with and without contrast, to get the best views) will give you enough radiation to double your chances of cancer in your lifetime (the equivalent of ten years of background radiation all at once).  Have a look through the radiation exposures at this radiology site and think twice about worrying about Japanese fallout. 

So the next time you go in, get the X-ray and the ultrasound, but skip the CT scan unless you really, really think you need it.  And always ask if there is something less invasive that can give them the information they need. 

All the scary information you need is at under radiation concerns: update.

Need to know now?  Have a look at this radiation exposure chart.  Want to know why we get so many procedures?  Good question.  Here’s what it costs per procedure here in Maine.  So not only do we get the radiation, we get to pay for it. 



  1. […] Ionizing Radiation: Where Children Are Truly At Risk. ( […]

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