Worried About Radiation from Medical Imaging?

Decades ago, the concern surrounding radiation and medical imaging was a valid concern. Since the advent of medical imaging with the invention of X-rays in 1895, the process toward finding the best methods and practices of imaging was a bumpy road. In fact, the reason why the procedure is termed “X” ray is because the physician who invented it, didn’t know what exactly was allowing him to see the silhouette of his bones but titled his discovery paper “New Kind of Rays.” Afterwards, scientists and doctors began to wonder if there were other ways to view the internal structures of the body without invasive means.

Luckily for us, ways of seeing deep into the body without a cut have been discovered. And yet, people are still highly concerned when it comes to possible radiation effects. Along with the inventions that allow doctors to see into the body, there has also been a very large increase in the study of radiology and the harm that can be caused. As such, doctors and medical imaging manufacturers operate in the vein of using the least amount of radiation as possible.

Even though more radiation would bring about better images, doctors and the machines that radiologists use are set to the lowest possible radiation settings. These machines have been carefully tested and calibrated so that the exposure to radiation is the least amount possible while still obtaining a clear and useful image. Patients are also outfitted with a lead apron on their bodies so that only the area that is being examined is what is exposed to the radiation. At Doctors Imaging in Metairie, we love looking out for our patients but we also do the same for our staff. Each member of the Doctors Imaging staff is given a film badge that helps to monitor the radiation signals. Since they are around these machines more often than their patients, the chance of exposure is slightly higher. However, we take every precaution possible to protect our patients and staff the best way we can.

It isn’t just our staff and radiologists providing the protection, our equipment does half the work too. Unlike some hospitals and imaging facilities, Doctors Imaging in Metairie only uses digital X-rays, meaning there is an even more miniscule amount of radiation exposure and the images are clearer than the traditional X-rays. Our ultrasound capabilities are also digitized so patients can see what is being examined with clarity and without the worry of radiation exposure. Many people come into their MRI procedure with questions concerning radiation where we kindly remind them that MRIs only use sound waves, magnets and computer technology to create images. There is no radiation involved when having an MRI performed.

The other procedures that do utilize radiation are CTs and PET-CT scans.  CTs are a combination effort of computer technology combined with X-ray capabilities. While CTs may use a small dose of radiation in order to create images, people come into contact with different forms of radiation on a daily basis. As stated earlier, the settings on all of the machines at Doctors Imaging are made for the lowest possible radiation exposure in order to protect the patient. While a PET-CT scanning machine doesn’t use radiation directly, before having the procedure performed, radiologists will administer a small amount of radioactive drug in order to highlight the difference between healthy and diseased tissue. These are the only procedures that would expose a patient to any radiation and we provide the most thorough protections possible.

If you have worries or concerns regarding radiation effects and your medical imaging procedure, feel free to contact Doctors Imaging at any time and speak to a technicians or representative. We know that the key to a successful imaging procedure is if the patient feels comfortable and knowledgeable.

You can get in touch with our experts by calling 504-883-8111 or by contacting us through this form.

Common Radiology Myths Debunked – Facts and Answers

At Doctors Imaging, we’ve heard nearly every question and concern from patients. With the proliferation of information available on the internet, it’s becoming a lot more common for patients to come in with questions about confusing or simply incorrect information they found online. With this post, our goal is to clear up some of that information for you.

When people come in for their medical imaging procedures, they feel a number of different emotions. Fear, insecurity, and anxiety are the most commonly described feelings. Some are afraid of what the results will be, others are afraid of a painful procedure, but many patients find themselves worried about the radiation exposure from the machinery involved in procuring internal images.

Myth #1: Radiation from Medical Imaging is Dangerous

Radiation is an important concern. If you are going to a doctor’s office to see if something is wrong, then you likely don’t want to do anything that could hurt you. Doctors Imaging is just as concerned with your safety and wants you to know that they have every possible safeguard in place to protect you and the technicians that work around these machines everyday.

To begin, you should know that radiation is a common element of everyday life. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, “we are surrounded by naturally-occurring radioactive elements in the soil and stones” and the “radioactive particles we take into our bodies through food and water.” Furthermore, we are composed of radiation in our bones and blood and are exposed through consumer products like aluminized watches and ionized smoke detectors, even airplanes give off bits of radiation. Our body is constantly bombarded by bits of radiation but people are still healthy.

This is because radiation can only have negative effects on the body when you are exposed to large doses in an unsupervised environment. At Doctors Imaging, our technicians are selected for their experience and knowledge as well as their patient care. We are committed to making you feel comfortable with your imaging procedure and keeping you informed by answering all of your questions. We minimize radiation in every way possible. If a procedure is important for your health, you should not hesitate to follow your doctor’s recommendations. But feel free to discuss with your doctor or us as to whether there are good diagnostic alternatives available.

Myth #2: Radiation Will Make me Sick

A common question with any imaging procedure is “Can I get sick from the radiation?” And the answer would be no, it would be very rare to have an adverse reaction from the imaging procedures provided by Doctors Imaging in Metairie. We have state of the art equipment and experienced professionals working in our facility to make sure that your health is constantly protected. All of the imaging machines at Doctors Imaging are programmed to have the lowest possible radiation exposure while still providing the clearest images for the doctor and patients viewing.

At Doctors Imaging, we offer a number of imaging procedures including MRIs, X-rays, CT scans, PET-CT scans, and ultrasounds. The only way to be exposed to radiation would be through X-ray and CT machines. MRI and Ultrasound do not use radiation. While X-rays may expose the body to radiation, it is usually limited to a specific area. In addition, the X-ray machines at Doctors Imaging are digital X-rays, which means that the radiation exposure is significantly reduced. Having digital X-rays provides doctors with better images and gives patients the peace of mind that their medical procedures are safe.

The other common way patients are exposed to radiation is with CT machines. CT stands for computed tomography. CTs use computer software along with X-ray capabilities to create cross-sectional images of the body. By doing this, doctors can see deeper into the body’s soft tissues and blood vessels and have clearer images. As stated earlier, the amount of radiation coded into the machine is at the lowest possible setting to insure that the images produced are still of the best quality.

Myth #3: Open and Closed MRIs produce the same images

Some patients ask our technicians about the difference between open and closed MRIs. Open MRIs are low strength and refer to machines that have a large opening so that patients do not feel as enclosed. While this may be more comfortable for some, the images produced in standard high strength MRIs are superior and preferred. By using advanced high field MRI, the machine creates clearer images. Doctors Imaging offers both MRI machines. Whatever the patient decides is best for them will be respected but if you having an imaging procedure performed, it is recommended that you get the best quality images you can. If you are nervous or claustrophobic about any of our imaging equipment, speak with your doctor or our staff about playing calming music or having a sedative available.

If you’ve heard any other “facts” about Medical Imaging you’d like us to double-check, post a message on our Facebook or tweet at @DoctorsImaging and we’ll answer them next time.

Is there a Radiation Related Risk from Medical Imaging Tests?

Medical imaging procedures have come such a long way since the invention of the X-ray. And yet, because of sensational media coverage, many are still afraid to have common imaging procedures performed. Perhaps it is the fear of what can be found, or perhaps folks just don’t like to be poked and prodded. Whatever the reason, ignoring imaging tests that can improve your quality of life is not only unwise, but dangerous. Many worry more about dangers from the testing procedure rather than the possible results to be obtained. One major concern is the amount of radiation used in these imaging procedures and whether the amount has harmful effects on the patient. This article will explore any potential radiation danger with every medical imaging procedure. Discuss with your doctors whether you really need the Xray or CT and if the answer is yes, don’t hesitate. Also ask if there are other tests like ultrasound or MRI that can give the same information.

Ultrasounds are useful in determining the conditions of the internal organs. Ultrasounds use high-frequency sound waves to produce images of the body’s structures and are also quite painless. Ultrasounds are commonly used in examining an unborn fetus so radiation is never used.  The most uncomfortable aspect of this procedure is the temperature of the ultrasound gel on the skin, which is at its harshest a mild discomfort. An MRI is another imaging procedure that offers no radiation risk. MRIs utilize radio and magnetic waves to produce images, most commonly of the cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems.

X-rays are one of the oldest and most frequently used imaging procedures. They are also one of the most painless procedures used to examine the structural formations of the body, most commonly bone breaks and fractures. X-rays use the lowest doses of radiation possible in order to obtain the clearest image for doctors. Furthermore, facilities which use digital X-rays (which our facility uses exclusively) rather than the traditional X-rays use 80-90% less radiation.

On average, Americans are annually exposed to 3.1 mSv or millisieverts of radiation from various sources like naturally occurring elements and even some fruits and vegetables. Some imaging procedures that contain more than the national average are CT-Scans or computed tomography and PET-CT scans or positron emission tomography. CT scans utilize radiation in concert with computer technology in order to create images of the body.  CT-scans are primarily used for examining the various tissues of the body, especially the chest and abdomen. While the radiation exposure from this procedure is higher than average, not having the procedure could be more harmful to you if you have a family history of cancer or a lifestyle that promotes it. PET-CT scans are a branch of nuclear medicine that uses a higher than average amount of radiation in order to differentiate between healthy and diseased tissues.

The amount of radiation present during these procedures can vary based on the size of the patient or the location of the examined area. The most important aspect to remember when having these imaging procedures performed is that our doctors and technicians will use the lowest possible dosage in order to produce the clearest image. These procedures are designed to be safe enough to perform on children and pregnant women so that no one has to go without a proper diagnosis. Speaking to your doctor or technician about your fears and concerns can help you to become a more informed patient as well as helping your doctors to give you the best quality of care and medical diagnosis possible.

Looking to talk to an imaging expert in the Greater New Orleans or Metairie area? We’re radiologists concerned about quality patient care. Call 504-883-8111 to schedule an appointment, or do it online by clicking here.