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Radiology/Worried about the radiation


QUESTION: I recently had a lumbar CT scan and I am pretty freaked out about it.  I called and they said the dose was 214.0 mgy.  All I can find is msv information.  I REALLY hope I didn't have 214.0 msv.  Can you tell me anything?  I am worried about getting cancer from this scan.  Thank you.

ANSWER: Hello, Worried.

You may have already found this page, but in case you haven't: here's a Radiation Units Conversion calculator:

According to that page, 214 mGy does equal 214 mSv. This seems EXTREMELY excessive according to the following page:

The chart found on that patient safety page estimates the effective dose from a CT scan of the spine to be 6 mSv.

It's possible that the person who said you received 214 mGy was mistaken. Maybe they miscalculated the position of the decimal point or gave the measurement in the wrong units.

I am not qualified to answer questions about your risks of getting cancer. I recommend you speak with one of the radiologists at your imaging facility. It shouldn't cost you anything for a consultation like this, and radiation dose is their specialty.

Verify the dosage you received and ask the radiologist any and all questions you have about your increased risk of cancer.

Try not to worry. Any time a radiology exam is ordered, the ordering physician believes that the benefits of having the exam outweigh any risks involved. Medical imaging techs are always trying to minimize radiation exposure to the patients.

Hope this helps a little,

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you.  I called them back, they pretty much now think I am the crazy lady.  I talked to the supervisor who told me the dosage is 2.4 msv and to stop looking things up online. :)

Glad you finally got some peace of mind. And you're not crazy. As you can see from the questions asked of me, you are not alone in being concerned about the radiation dose you received.

It's good that you are keeping track of your radiation exposure. I'm glad I could help.



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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.

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