How much radiation am I getting with my X-ray, CT scan, or nuclear medicine test?

Here’s a handy resource for patients to calculate their radiation exposure to a variety of imaging tests.

How much radiation am I getting with my X ray, CT scan, or nuclear medicine test?Radiation exposure, and the subsequent risk of cancer, is a small, but very real, risk of X-rays, CT scans, and other radiology procedures. But, how much is too much, and what is the cumulative effect?

That’s a question I encounter daily, and thanks to a group of radiology residents at the University of South Carolina, we now have this handy, on-line tool to calculate a patient’s radiation exposure for a variety of imaging tests.

Calculate your risk, and remember, more testing can be risky, and doesn’t always equate to better medicine.

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  • Anonymous

    These calculators unfortunately aren’t giving any real prediction. The risk calculations themselves are based on radiation exposure from atomic bombs, not CTs, so the type of radiation and intensity are quite different. In fact no one knows whether radiation at these intensities is harmful or not. More importantly, not everyone responds to radiation the same way. In the extreme, patients with certain deficiencies in DNA damage responses to radiation develop tumors at a young age with no man-made exposure. Not everyone exposed to the atomic bombs developed cancer either; so it appears likely some individuals are more resistant than others. I don’t see that we have enough information on this front to give a person any realistic calculation of their risk. It’s a cute game though:)

  • Hey, You

    Interesting. An abdominal CT scan was 20 times more radiation than a mammogram, which was 20 times more radiation than a chest X-ray.

    However, that doesn’t tell the whole story. Radiation in a mammogram is concentrated over a much smaller area than either the abdominal CT scan or the chest X-ray. That matters.

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