During a CT scan, you're briefly exposed to much more radiation than you would be during a plain X-ray. This radiation from imaging tests has a very small potential to increase your risk of cancer. Still, CT scans have many benefits that may outweigh potential risks. Doctors use the lowest dose of radiation whenever possible. Newer machines and techniques may expose you to less radiation. Talk with your doctor about the benefits and risks of your CT scan.
Harm to unborn babies
Tell your doctor if you're pregnant. Another type of exam may be recommended, such as ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), to avoid the risk of exposing your fetus to the radiation.
Reactions to contrast material
In certain cases, your doctor may recommend you receive a special dye called a contrast material through a vein in your arm before your CT scan. Although rare, the contrast material can cause medical problems or allergic reactions. Most reactions are mild and result in a rash or itchiness. In rare instances, an allergic reaction can be serious and potentially life-threatening. Tell your doctor if you've ever had a reaction to contrast material.
Mar. 23, 2012
- CT — Body. RadiologyInfo.org. http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=bodyct. Accessed Feb. 24, 2012.
- Smith-Bindman R, et al. Radiation dose associated with common computed tomography examinations and the lifetime attributable risk of cancer. Archives of Internal Medicine. 2009;169:2078.
- Adam A, et al. Grainger & Allison's Diagnostic Radiology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2008. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-443-10163-2..X5001-5&isbn=978-0-443-10163-2&uniqId=319273617-2. Accessed Feb. 24, 2012.
- Contrast materials. RadiologyInfo.org. http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/safety/index.cfm?pg=sfty_contrast. Accessed Feb. 24, 2012.