Radiology/Barium enema


My son (age 4, about 16kg) had to have a barium enema last year and I was wondering how much radiation he received.  When I called the hospital they told me that he got 60 mGy amount of radiation, which (they said) was about 1/5 of the background radiation of 300 mGy we would get during a year in USA (California, low altitude). Is that correct?

When checking the Internet, I see that 1mGy=1mSv and the background radiation for a year listed online is ~3mSv. Do you think they told me the wrong units? Or the 60mGy is NOT the actual effective dose that he was exposed to.

Hello, Tom.

This was not an easy answer to find! But I think I did find some information that will help you:

Pediatric radiation dose:

Patient Dose comparison:

Dose Units Conversion table:

Compare mGy to mSv:

According to the websites referenced above, your son probably received 7.2 to 8 mSv and the annual dose from natural occurring background radiation is 3 mSv. The hospital used the wrong units and might have meant micro instead of milli. mGy measures radation dose to any material, mSy is the measure of exposure to human tissue.

If your son did truly get 60 mSv instead of 60 micro-sieverts, that would be extremely excessive. I'd be inclined to use the information in the charts above.

Hope this helps,
Delia White
Santa Barbara Extremity MRI  


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Delia White


I am not qualified to interpret diagnostic imaging or to diagnose disease. Please consult a physician for that information. I am the photographer. I can tell you what to expect during most MRI, CT and X-ray procedures.


I now have more than 30 years experience in diagnostic imaging. My specialty is MRI. I am also very familiar with CT and the way we used to take x-rays (everything's digital now)!

I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Radiologic Technology.

©2016 All rights reserved.