Radiation exposure

Some people worry that X-rays aren't safe because radiation exposure can cause cell mutations that may lead to cancer. The amount of radiation you're exposed to during an X-ray depends on the tissue or organ being examined. Sensitivity to the radiation depends on your age, with children being more sensitive than adults.

Generally, however, radiation exposure from an X-ray is low, and the benefit from these tests far outweigh the risks.

However, if you're pregnant or suspect that you may be pregnant, tell your doctor before having an X-ray. Though the risk of most diagnostic X-rays to an unborn baby is small, your doctor may consider another imaging test, such as ultrasound.

Contrast medium

In some people, the injection of a contrast medium can cause side effects such as:

  • A feeling of warmth or flushing
  • A metallic taste
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea
  • Itching
  • Hives

Rarely, severe reactions to a contract medium occur, including:

  • Severe low blood pressure
  • Anaphylactic shock
  • Cardiac arrest
Mar. 06, 2015