If You Are Pregnant
We hope this information is useful to you. Please ask a doctor, nurse, or technologist if you have any more questions.
Is it safe to have X-rays if I am pregnant?
Pregnant women are particularly concerned for the safety of their unborn children. Because you are pregnant we want you to understand the possible effects radiation might have on your child. As you read this, please remember: There is risk involved with every pregnancy. A single X-ray exam does not add significantly to this risk. For there to be any effect from radiation the fetus (unborn child) must be in the direct beam. This only happens for certain kinds of exams. The fetus is not exposed during head CTs, chest X-rays, or mammograms. If the fetus is near the radiation, like for a chest CT, we can provide a lead apron for added protection.
What is the risk from radiation?
All hospitals follow strict regulations to prevent radiation doses from ever getting high enough to cause any immediate problem. All X-rays, including CT's, use low doses of radiation. There is no immediate effect from low doses of radiation. The risk increases if you have multiple exams over a short period of time. If you have had any other X-ray or Nuclear Medicine exams during your pregnancy, be sure to tell the doctor or technologist right away.
What is the benefit of having an X-ray exam?
An X-ray exam is the best way of visualizing your internal organs so that a doctor can make a diagnosis. In some cases it is the only way to make a diagnosis. If a condition is not diagnosed and treated it can have an immediate effect on you and your baby.
Is intravenous contrast safe?
Many CT exams use intravenous contrast, a type of X-ray dye that can make things easier to detect. The effect of contrast on an unborn child is not known, although it is thought to be safe. The Radiologist will only order contrast if it is absolutely necessary, and if your referring physician insists that the exam cannot wait until you are no longer pregnant.
Are there any alternatives to an X-ray exam?
MRI and ultrasound are two other imaging methods that do not use radiation. They may be used in place of X-rays for some exams. A Radiologist can tell you if there is an alternative for the type of exam you are about to receive.