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potsiebarbie

How many CT scans have you had?

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Well - I am afraid that I am a bad example, I have had 12 CT scans. Mostly head CT's due to my many syncopal episodes resulting in trauma as well as several abdominal problems resulting in surgery. Today I do not allow  CT scans unless absolutely necessary. 

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I have had 2 sinus CTs, a chest CT with contract, 3 or 4 sets of chest Xrays, and a brain MRI with and without contrast. All in the past 3 years. I figure, prior to these past few years, I haven't had much radiation exposure. It was worth it. It ruled things out. And that was good for my sanity. 

I had a doctor that refused to do any imaging to confirm my oldest's son's diagnosis of federal anteversion. (Not sure on the spelling). Basically it means he walks funny, but nothing is going to help and it doesn't hurt him in the long run. Still not convinced on that diagnosis, because the doctor refused the imaging. His excuse was radiation exposure. 

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I've had a head ct, a sinus CT, two chest CTs, two abdominal/pelvic CTs, and a soft tissue neck CT. All in the past year! I keep thinking if there wasn't something wrong with me before- there sure is now! (With all the radiation exposion) lol 

Not really lol but I'm trying to make myself feel better. Haha

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I had 5 CT scans in this past year.....it scares me so much...they keep saying it is fine....uggggggg  I think all that radiation has made me sicker....

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Fun facts:

1) There is no "safe" level of ionizing radiation (x-ray,CT).   Every single x-ray and CT scan all adds to your risk of cancer and other nasty things. 

2) Ionizing radiation damage is cumulative. 

3) In the USA, no doctor is responsible for the cumulative x-ray dose a patient receives.  This is different in other countries where the radiologist is required to look up a patient's past history before proceeding. 

Back in the day at a med school lecture, I remember a radiologist giving a talk about ionizing radiation (x-ray, CT) safety.  His talk came from his own personal experience when his college-aged daughter was involved in a serious car accident while off at college.  In the time it took him to get to the out-of-state hospital, his daughter had already received NINE (9) CT scans.  He was appalled.  He even confronted the head of radiology for the hospital who was rather aloof about the whole thing.  He refused to allow any further radiological studies on his daughter.   This led him to researching exposure limits & such.  

It's been ~10+ years since I attended that lecture, BUT I recall the magic # he came up with was between 5-10 CT scans for your entire lifetime.  Once you get beyond that, you're starting to talk about exposure levels similar to those of Hiroshima survivors.   The variation depends upon what type of imaging scans you're having. Conventional x-rays (dental (NOT 3D dental -- those are CT), chest x-rays, etc.) are the lowest dose.  CT scans are higher, with small areas (head, arm, etc.) being medium-ish and abdomen/colon/etc being much higher.   How much more risk does multiple CT scans put you at?  IIRC, it's ~15% once you get past 5 CTs. 

Personally, I've had one abdominal CT and am going to keep it that way unless it's life-or-death.  

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I have been in the ER several times each year for POTS complications. Whenever the ER doc asked if I had a headache and I said yes they ordered a CT of the head. FOR A HEADACHE!!!! I no longer mention the headache and - of course - have refused the CT scans. However - there were times when the CT scan was justified: abdominal pains, suspected PE, head trauma from falls … in all these cases the CT scans needed to be done. So - weigh the benefit vs the risk each time. 

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The only x-ray I've ever had was a dental x-ray, and I intend to keep it that way. As bunny said, ionising radiation is nasty and increases your risk of many illnesses. Medical radiation is the cause of a vast number of cancer cases.

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I’ve had MANY CT scans in my lifetime (at least 11-12) because I had cancer at age 20. I’ve also had a number of Nuclear Medicine tests and X-rays. I have had 3 CT’s alone since September and I know I will need another CT again soon to check if my blood clots have dissolved in my lungs. 

That being said, I’m not too concerned about the radiation. I am a cancer survivor and I still do not really worry. Is it more radiation than an X-ray? Yes. Should you be worried? Not necessarily. 

I work in radiology and we limit radiation exposure to younger patients but we still do a CT if it is medically necessary. There are also shields they can use to protect your thyroid, breast and reproductive organs. You can ask to have these on during a CT. 

It is true that every CT you have does increase your risk of developing cancer by a small amount (I think 0.011% if I remember correctly). However, you would have to repeatedly get CT scans over time to truly be at risk of developing a cancer. 

I think as patients we need to use our commen sense: if the CT is for something serious like pulmonary embolism, stroke, aneurysm / active bleeding, etc then the benefits ALWAYS outweigh the risk. Things like minor aches and pains really should be investigated via imaging that does not use radiation (ie. ultrasound) or be investigated clinically (no imaging). Blood work, urine samples and a good physical exam can give physicians a really good idea of what is going on (most of the time).

Unfortunately the problem with improving medical technology is that many doctors want to replace old-fashioned physical exams with having diagnostic imaging tests instead. This is NOT reasonable nor a safe thing to do. I see it happening in my line of work and it is not okay.

If you have a doctor that orders diagnostic imaging tests for every little ache, pain or complaint then you really SHOULD question it. Ask yourself: is it really worth it? Are my symptoms bad enough that I would risk a small amount of radiation to get an answer?

As a patient it is your right to refuse any exam you are not comfortable with. 👍🏻

Sorry this is so long - I’m just passionate about health care 😊

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10 hours ago, KristaKupcake said:

Unfortunately the problem with improving medical technology is that many doctors want to replace old-fashioned physical exams with having diagnostic imaging tests instead. This is NOT reasonable nor a safe thing to do. I see it happening in my line of work and it is not okay.

This just about sums it up!!!!! 

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10 hours ago, Pistol said:

This just about sums it up!!!!! 

It is probably one of the most frustrating parts of my job. I am often the first person to do any type of exam on a patient - physical or diagnostic. Doctors really need to trust their gut and still rely on their skills but they just want to send people off to diagnostic imaging instead! Ugh. I do Ultrasound examinations specifically but I work closely with X-ray, CT and Nuclear Medicine. I do not deal much with MRI. 

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