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Old 05-31-2010, 09:34 PM   #1
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Too many MRIs/ultrasounds/CT scans/xrays?

This is something that's been in the back of my mine for a long time but because I have such major health concerns that need to be addressed immediately I never question when I need a test done.


I am a 24 year old female. I have 3 problems that all require a lot of radiation.

-- Ovarian cysts for 7 years/I recently had one ovary and fallopian tube removed: I need internal ultrasounds to monitor every 6 months.

-- Polycystic kidney disease: I need an ultrasound every 6 months but also have had MRIs with contrast done every year or so.


-- Labral tears in hips and slight discs herniated. I have had SO many MRIs, MRAs, and x-rays on my hips and lumbar/spine over the past 3 years it's insane.

-- Family history of brain aneurysm combined with polycystic kidneys and high blood pressure (even though I am in very good shape and eat well) = CT scans of my head every year.


I am concerned because I am 24 years old and most of these need to be done every 6 months... for the rest of my life?!? How can that be safe? But these problems need to monitored so do I simply have no choice? Anyone that can offer any input would be very much appreciated, I am in the dark on this.
I also have a family history of cancer...all grandparents, aunts and uncles, and my young healthy dad have all died from cancer. So I just fear that this could possibly contribute to my chances of cancer in the future?

 
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Old 05-31-2010, 11:25 PM   #2
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Re: Too many MRIs/ultrasounds/CT scans/xrays?

For what it's worth, I believe ultrasounds and MRIs don't pose much, if any risk as they do not involve radiation. I get ultrasounds of my neck every three or four months to follow up on thyroid cancer. I have similar concerns though, particularly when dealing with a host of doctors/specialists. I try to inform them of what films I have had and when so they can try to use existing films whenever possible. I've had external beam radiation as well so I've already been zapped a lot. There is some indication that exposure to radiation can be a factor in thyroid cancer, though I admit I have no idea what levels are considered to be of concern. You might want to discuss this with a radiologist. The less exposure, the better, of course, but if the test is needed to diagnose or monitor a condition, your doctors should be weighing the benefits against the risks for you. Always ask if you're not sure why the test is being ordered etc. A good doc will have that discussion with you. Best.

 
Old 06-01-2010, 12:39 AM   #3
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Re: Too many MRIs/ultrasounds/CT scans/xrays?

No, we are not exposed to any radiation at all during an MRI scan. “MRI” stands for “magnetic resonance imaging,” and it uses magnetic and radio waves to produce images -- not radiation.

CT scans do emit a higher level of radiation than traditional X-rays, as they are taking many more images in order to produce a 3-D picture. However, it seems as if it's a double-edged sword. Since we need to keep an eye on specific symptoms.

Wishing you the best of health...........

 
Old 06-01-2010, 04:40 PM   #4
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Re: Too many MRIs/ultrasounds/CT scans/xrays?

I also get lots of tests done frequently. MRI's, MRA's and ultrasounds have no radiation and simple x-rays are so low dose now that you get more radiation if you have granite counter tops in your kitchen(yes they can give off radiation).

As for the yearly CT's of your head, I have aneurysms and use an MRA for that instead of a CT. Something to consider instead of a CT if you're worried about radiation.

As for the exposure to the magnets of MRI/MRA machines, they are now using high intensity magnets to treat depression so it can actually be good for your brain....or so it appears.

Jenny

 
Old 06-03-2010, 07:25 AM   #5
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Re: Too many MRIs/ultrasounds/CT scans/xrays?

just a couple of really good suggestions for ya here since i too have PKD in both kidneys and my liver as well and i also have a history of already getting that 'big risk" for aneurysm in 2005? for what YOU actually have and need done here hon, you should NOT even HAVE to have ANY radiation with the CT, which as the others have stated IS the only one of these particular tests that even USE radiation at all(all other tests are safe from THAT standpoint). using an actual CT to try and rule out an actual annie is really kind of a stupid move on your ordering docs part, seriously. as jenny mentioned, the very BEST way to try and rule in or out any level of possible arterial vascular malformation within our brains IS using an MRA which will ONLY look at arteries and nothing else that could possibly hide them like the soft tissue structures would or just can depending upon the exacting location they can just show up in in any given artery. just an MRA would be totally fine and what i also have to have done now too. but any CT to even BEGIN to be able to really rule out a potential annie is just kind of crazy and it does expose you to unnessecsary radiation too that is simply not needed for this testing at all. CTs really show bleeds really well and old ones too, but for detecting annies, not so much. even an uncontrasted MRA is way far superior than any CT would be here, trust me on that one. this was the ONLY test that my actual smaller annie even showed up on(it was also within an actual bend in the artery which made it even harder to detect too), and it was uncontrasted too. its only becasue of what the MRA will ONLY show upon the scan, just arteries only. you just really DO have to be very careful about even having ANY types of contrast agents used too, esp if your labs have gone out of range at all at this point? mine had not even gone out of range back then yet and my neph still told me to always decline any contrasted pics.

but when i had my aneurysm, i HAD to have contrasted angiograms done four times between before the coiling, during it and after it too. but there IS an actual med that we can take called "mucomyst" that if taken the day before any contrasted procedure, then the morning of and after it will actually encapsulate that dye completely and pass it right thru our kidneys without it ever even being filtered as it would normally be without muco. so if you should ever simply 'have to" have any real contrast used,t here just IS a very very safe way to use this, as long as that mucomyst is also used with it.

as far as the PKD monitoring goes, just exactly why are they using BOTH the ultrasound AND a contrasted MRI for that when quite honestly, the very BEST way to monitor PKD seriously is with bloodwork AND that ultrasound, thats it. everything you just need to actually know and see IS right there upon just plain old US and also checking crucial bloodflow in real time when they attatch that doppler tool to simply check out bloodflow thru certain organs like i have to have my portal vein checked for any signs of real issues from the possible compression from just the nasty cystic globs that form? it works really really well. no actual MRI, esp with contrast and kidney problems should need to even be done/used at all really. my intrahepatic bile ducts and my common bile duct for the last two USs(i have mine done once a year) have also become enlarged/dilated from what we are assuming is simply some really heavy compression too since the organs can get soooo way overly enlarged its just insane really. so the US really does pick up everything you really just DO need to know. and that too poses NO threat as far as any types of radiation either.

do you only have the kidney involvement with your PKD or is it also in your liver and a few other odd places like mine is? just getting a 'full abdominal' US done will hit all the critical/crucial areas just fine so you seriously do NOT need any MRIs done here for monitoring purposes. and this just IS more the 'standard" form of real ongoing monitoring FOR those of us with PKD too. just something you should 'only' really need here,thats all.

as far as the hip and low back stuff goes, now that would require MRI, but you can either decline that contrast or double check with your neph(and alot of this really DOES depend upon YOUR kidney labs too)after finding out just how many ccs of contrast is going to be used to see whther or not you could take the mucomyst or if it is simply 'safe" for you to even go there.

just what have your kidney labs been like? are they still all within the norm ranges? if there is ANY issues with your GFR, the creatinine and that potassium, NO contrasting agents should ever be used on you without the mucomyst also being used too. this will create more possible destruction of healthy kidney tissue and impact function if contrast is just used at all with any level of real true function impact of the ones i mentioned?

honestly tho, if you are only 24 years old right now and your cysts are growing in the kidneys AND the liver too,you would normally in most cases seriously have a pretty long way to go before any real lab changes actually take place. but if ONLY the kidneys are being impacted alone, for some insane reason, the labs tend to change with most PKD patients a wee bit earlier. not too certain as to why tho. but i did not have a clue i even had PKD or it ran in our family til i was actually 40 years old, and so far, up til this year(now 49), all my labs had been within perfect midrange normal. and this is despite having very heavy and massive cystic globs that some are over 5-6 CMs too? this just IS one heck of an insane type of actual inherited kidney disease, thats for sure.

but i seriously would make some changes here with the types of actual scans you are and have been getting when other types of testing are just the more standards and in some cases far superior and safer? i am serious, i cannot even believe that any doc(who actually orderd the CTs for annie detection, primary or someone else?)could possibly even think that the best way to try and even rule one in or out would be with an actual CT? its just NOT the best test for this at all hon. the MRA even without any contrast, like i mentioned above, is just soo much better and more clearly able to see/detect actual annies than ANY possible CT ever could.

just who has been in charge of actually ordering all these seperate tests for you your primary or other docs too? if you could also let me know just how your kidney labs have been running and if your kidneys just are the only affected organs too it would really help me to better advise you hon. i am just really kind of shocked at just how many and what types of scans you are having to keep having here for certain things. very not the standard or norm,really.

but the one good thing here is the ONLY actual radiation you have been taking in here at all would be from the CTs which you really just do not need anymore seriously(go with the MRAs from here on out), and any possible form of x rays you may be getting once in a while? everything else is done using much safer methods of obtaining pics. but you really DO need to have a chat with whoever is actually referring you for certain tests here. FB
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Old 06-04-2010, 08:30 AM   #6
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Re: Too many MRIs/ultrasounds/CT scans/xrays?

Thank you guys for your responses. The only test I knew that had radiation was xrays and CT scans, that having so many xrays was what raised my concerns of radiation -- I assumed the MRI/MRA didn't have any.

I'm glad to hear xrays are very low-dose though, I had undiagnosed pain in my legs for 6 years and they xrayed just about everything they could from my back down in many different positions (and even 'redid' them because the last radiologist didn't do them 'good enough').

I'm happy with your responses because the CT scan I've only had twice, and I have lost track of how many of the other scans I've had because they are so frequently (mainly MRI/MRA/US). I will definitely say no the next time a CT scan is ordered for an aneurysm check. The order was made by a kidney clinic nurse practioner, I will definitely opt for an MRA next time.

As for my other orders, they have been made my GP, sports med doctors, rehab, and orthopedic surgeon multiple times. They basically say "this needs to be done" and I do it (I'm in excrutiating pain and desperate for answers).

As for PKD, my labs have all been very good. I also have high blood pressure (even though I'm in good shape). The ultrasounds I have had have been very conflicting. The cysts were discovered accidentally on an MRI of my spine and they determined I had 3-5 small cysts. I have had ultrasounds but it has been so hard for them to distinguish what's a cyst and what's not on me. One ultrasound concluded there were 15-18 cysts combined. Then I just had another one AFTER that which stated 3-5 cysts combined. I think this is why I had the MRI w/ constrast...because they are better at distinguishing the cysts -- which is not needed in most patients but mine are difficult to diagnose.
So am I understanding correctly that MRI/MRAs are bad for kidneys or just the ones with contrast? Because I need a ton of MRI/MRAs for my hip/leg issues and that's definitely my main concern right now because I can't walk. I also get cortisone shots and other contrast in my hip joint...but that shouldn't affect the kidneys, correct?
And as for cysts anywhere else, I haven't had anything checked that I know of aside from my ovaries. I had major ovarian cyst problems (many trips to the ER) starting when I was 16 years old. They ruptured but kept coming back so I eventually had to get a whole ovary removed. But I don't know if anything else is cyst-y.
I am just full of fun health problems for no reason.
Thank you guys for your helpful comments

 
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Old 06-04-2010, 04:51 PM   #7
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Re: Too many MRIs/ultrasounds/CT scans/xrays?

It takes a lot of X-rays before you would have an issue, and I mean a lot. I started having xrays in 1970 every 3 months on my hips. From 74 to 76 it was every month and after surgery every day for weeks at a time. And then back to every 3 months until an adult over a span of 14 or so years. This was long before low dose was ever started.

Since my late teens then I continue to get X-rays usually 2 - 3 times a year and MRI's and CT's yearly for several health problems. I generally have contrast once or twice a year depending on test and what they are monitoring. If anyone would be glowing it would be me. No evidence of cancer thank goodness but my bones are falling apart ;P

Is there a history of your problem within either side of the family? If so maybe seeing a geneticist would help.

Like you I had ovarian cysts at an early age. Age 14. I still have problems with cysts (and I can't think of the other term at the moment). It is genetic for me from my moms side of the family. For me the problem stems basically from bad genetics.
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Old 06-10-2010, 03:49 PM   #8
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Re: Too many MRIs/ultrasounds/CT scans/xrays?

Quote:
Originally Posted by iamtooyoung View Post
This is something that's been in the back of my mine for a long time but because I have such major health concerns that need to be addressed immediately I never question when I need a test done.


I am a 24 year old female. I have 3 problems that all require a lot of radiation.

-- Ovarian cysts for 7 years/I recently had one ovary and fallopian tube removed: I need internal ultrasounds to monitor every 6 months.

-- Polycystic kidney disease: I need an ultrasound every 6 months but also have had MRIs with contrast done every year or so.


-- Labral tears in hips and slight discs herniated. I have had SO many MRIs, MRAs, and x-rays on my hips and lumbar/spine over the past 3 years it's insane.

-- Family history of brain aneurysm combined with polycystic kidneys and high blood pressure (even though I am in very good shape and eat well) = CT scans of my head every year.


I am concerned because I am 24 years old and most of these need to be done every 6 months... for the rest of my life?!? How can that be safe? But these problems need to monitored so do I simply have no choice? Anyone that can offer any input would be very much appreciated, I am in the dark on this.
I also have a family history of cancer...all grandparents, aunts and uncles, and my young healthy dad have all died from cancer. So I just fear that this could possibly contribute to my chances of cancer in the future?
I, too, have had quite a few x-rays (growing up in the 50's, 60's 70's) and then MORE once I was diagnosed with superficial melanoma. It seems I can't even have a run of the mill toe nail fungus without making sure it's not melanoma!
I have had plenty of ct scans of abdomen because of uterine fibroids that have pretty much disintegrated (thank you menopause), CT of kidneys, ureter and bladder *blood in urine--nothing found so far. Heart scan *calcium scoring - ??not sure why, lung scan *ground glass nodules-interstitial markings in both upper lobes, brain scan ordered by ER because of terrible migraine, thyroid uptake scan *negative, dexa scan *bones, mammos, DENTAL x-rays, upper GI *barium swallow, CT scan C Spine thought there was cancer - none found and whatever ones I have had previous to my records dating back to the 80's.

So, I have put an end to all the radiation, since there is some in the background wherever we go anyway. Who needs it??
I was supposed to have followup scans of the lungs. Will wait awhile. I have also ended the mammos for a bit.
Now? Wait and see. Hope nothing comes of all those scans. Like bone cancer or leukemia, etc. I make sure I eat as healthy as possible. Trying to get more exercise. Prayer. Lots of healthy supplements and keeping fingers crossed.
YOU are now in MY prayers! Hope someone comes up with something that replaces SCANS safely, but still able to diagnose.

 
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