Radiology/Head CT radiation


I had 3 Head CTs done in a period of 2 weeks for a TBI, seizures, and a benign mass. I know that there was is slight risk for developing cancer after CTs and given the nature of my injury, I am fine with this because it was necessary. I do have a questions on how CT radiation works however...

I had read that a head CT is the equivalent of 2 years of background radiation. Did I just age myself 6 years in 2 weeks? Do CT scans age and injure the skin, bone, and every other tissue in the head and neck on their way to the brain?

I am concerned about bone cancer because in addition to the head CTs, I had many dental X-rays as a child. I am also concerned about skin damage from the X-rays and CTs. Do X-rays/CTs damage every organ trying to get to the targeted one and does every organ absorb them?

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer this!


Please don't worry about the harmful effects from radiation exposure you received during your diagnostic imaging. According to the chart here:
the radiation dose from a CT of the Head is equivalent to 8 months background radiation. Only 16 months worth for a CT of the Head with and without contrast.

Radiation exposure isn't exactly equivalent to aging; you can't really compare the two. Yes, exposure to any x-radiation does cause permanent and cumulative damage. But the dose received during diagnostic imaging is very, very low. Generally the diagnostic benefits of radiation exposure outweigh the risk involved.

You can do nothing about the damage done by previous exposure to radiation. The best thing you can do is try to minimize your future exposure by wearing sunscreen and having x-rays only when absolutely necessary.

Hope this helps,


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.

©2017 All rights reserved.