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A Lot of CT Scans and Radiation - Worried about risks

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Old 01-08-2010, 06:17 PM   #1
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A Lot of CT Scans and Radiation - Worried about risks

Hello: Over the last 5 years I have had a few different illnesses and injuries and have had 4 Brain CT Scans -- 3 Abdomen Can Scans -- 4 Chest CT Scans-- a full body scan and about 40 X Rays. I was wondering if anyone else has had this many scans in their lifetime and how much is too much. The last 3 injuries I had I asked them not to order CT Scans but because of the type of injury, they always did. (head injury, appendicitis, possible ruptured spleen).

I am 40 and worried about getting cancer from this. Each time I asked the Dr they all said it is definitely a risk but I had to do the scans. Just wondering if there are others in same position and what you think. Thanks

Last edited by sugaragus; 01-08-2010 at 06:19 PM. Reason: spelling

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Old 01-08-2010, 06:44 PM   #2
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Re: A Lot of CT Scans and Radiation - Worried about risks

I am in the same situation. I was burned in a MRI so I can't have one so ct scans are the only option. I have had 2 brain ct scans in the last year and will have another one in a few months. I had several on my back prior to back surgery and several of my adominal area. I heard 5 should be the maximum as the radiation is something like equal to 300 xrays.
I won't have any more on my back and in the future I will try to stick to ultrasounds of my stomach but I have no option regarding the brain scans. I will have one more and after that I will doctor shop to see if someone can give me a diagnosis on the unusual calcifications and abnormal shrinkage.
It absolutely freaks me out though. I am watching the amount of hair that comes out when I wash it as I read that was a symptom a woman had after a brain scan and found out the machine was sent to the wrong setting. yikes.

Old 01-08-2010, 09:10 PM   #3
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Re: A Lot of CT Scans and Radiation - Worried about risks

There's always a risk/benefit assessment with nearly everything we do. Often, the risks of not doing the scans could be worse than the risks of doing them.

I've had quite a few myself CT's, MRI's and also radiation treatment, as I've had cancer twice (two different types), along with some other problems. My doctors now order ultrasounds wherever possible...for example, instead of a thallium stress test this year I had an echo stress test. But if I need a scan, I need a scan. I'd much rather risk the possible future problems than ignore something that could be treated in the present.


Old 01-09-2010, 09:20 AM   #4
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Re: A Lot of CT Scans and Radiation - Worried about risks

Yeah, I agree. If it could be life threatening and the Scan can save you now, it is definitely more important. I refused a CT for a head injury and had to go back 3 days later with Headache and dizziness and ended up getting one anyways. I was ok, but if I had bleeding that bad decision could have killed me. I guess I am mainly looking for peace of mind know others had done this many too. Although it seems that very few have had this many. I can only hope it doesn't come back to haunt me. Thanks for your responses so far.

Old 03-10-2010, 07:57 AM   #5
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Re: A Lot of CT Scans and Radiation - Worried about risks

I'm worried about the same thing. I'm only 30, and I've had around 12-13. I had an aneursym last year, and had 2 regular head CTs and 3 CTA's. From what I hear, a CTA is like 3 head CTs in one. Not to mention several abd CTs to rule out things like appendicitis and what not. And 2 lung CTs b/c they thought I had a blood clot in my lung after surgery. I'm trying not to stress about it, but it's hard. I don't know anybody else my age that's had this many. You'd think I was some hypochondriac or something. I know they were all warranted at the time, especially all the head ones, but a few I could have done without-like the 2 routine follow up CTs ordered by the neurologist when I was a teenager b/c I had migraines. I just wonder how long it will/would take for the cancer to develop. Are we talking 5 yrs, 10, 20?
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Old 03-10-2010, 02:50 PM   #6
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Re: A Lot of CT Scans and Radiation - Worried about risks


I have only had one CT scan and I am 52 now, but it ended up causing alot of unnecessary worry and follow-up tests and even surgery.

They thought I had a GIST ( a type of stomach cancer.) You can imagine my terror. After 2 endoscopic procedures and 1 unnecessary surgery, it was found I had a small liver hemiangioma, which is a common and completely beneign condition. - I asked the surgeon afterward, if this would have ever bothered me later in life. - He said absolutely not.

I do know the medical community is rethinking and revisiting the idea of doing CT's for every little thing, especially in children. Of course CT's can be lifesaving in the right situation, but often there is a similar test with no radiation or far less that would work just as well. And another concern is since they pick up so much, you could be treated/tested for something that isn't even life -threatening, as in my case.


Old 06-03-2010, 07:37 PM   #7
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Re: A Lot of CT Scans and Radiation - Worried about risks

I found this thread because I was worrying about the same thing. I'm sorry you are going through this worry, too.

In the past 5 years, I have had 2 abd/pelvis CTs, 2 chest CTs, and 1 head CT angiogram, plus several chest x-rays, mammograms, and abdominal x-rays. Only one of the CT scans was even remotely necessary, when I went to the ER with an episode of acute lower right quadrant pain and they suspected appendicitis. (It wasn't appendicitis... in fact, they never did figure out what caused it.) All of the other CT scans were for the doctors' convenience and protection, not mine. Twice I tried to say no to the scans, asked for alternatives like ultrasound or MRI, and both times I was refused and the doctors (ER) terrified me into getting the CTs. I am angry about that.

Just had an abd/pelvis CT scan last weekend because I went to the ER with bloody diarrhea. The ER doctor wouldn't even call my doctor to discuss it first, who later told me the test was completely unnecessary. No one asked me how many CT scans I've had in the past, no one discussed why the test was being performed or if there were any alternatives or if it was even really necessary. No one would answer my questions or even talk about the risks. Of course, they made me sign something quickly but didn't give me time to read it.

It's sickening.

So today I called the radiology department of the hospital and spoke to the Dosimetrist and asked him how much radiation I received during my scan. He refused to give me the information, said it wasn't "customary". I told him it wasn't proprietary or protected information and that I was entitled to it as it should be a part of my medical record, and he said it was but that he would not give it to me. Unbelievable.

Angela, 44

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