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CT and Safety (5672)

CT and Safety (5672) - Clinical Hub, Patient Education, Health and Nutrition Facts For You, Diagnostic Tests, Procedures, Equipment


CT and Safety

Computed Tomography (CT) scanners have
been in use since the early 1970s. In both
children and adults, CT scanners can help
find and manage many conditions such as:

ξ Infections
ξ Appendicitis
ξ Kidney stones
ξ Trauma
ξ Strokes
ξ Cancer
ξ And others

A CT is one of the best tools used to find
one of the problems listed above. Like x-
rays, CT scanners use radiation to show
images of the inside of the body. The detail
seen on a CT scan is better than normal x-

All of us are constantly exposed to low
levels of radiation. On average, natural
background radiation from the sun, rocks,
food, water, and air accounts for about four-
fifths of our exposure each year. The other
one-fifth comes from all of the man-made
sources like x-rays. For instance, a chest x-
ray gives about the same amount of
radiation as a few days’ worth of
background radiation. A CT scan gives
about a year’s worth.
Some worry that extra radiation might cause
cancer. Many studies have been performed
to try to link areas of high background
radiation with an increase in cancer. No link
has been found. Low-level x-rays (like CT
scans) have not been shown to cause an
increased risk of cancer or any other bad
health effects in either adults or children.
Using CT scanners has had a huge impact on
the early findings and treatment of cancer
and other serious problems. It extends and
improves the quality of life for millions of
people. The body does repair cell injury
from radiation.

The concern that extra radiation might cause
cancer comes from the fact that very high
doses (like the amount from the atom bomb)
are known to increase a person’s risk of
getting cancer.

We do our best to only expose our patients
to the smallest amount of radiation that is
needed for high quality exams. Your
doctors and nurses are aware of these issues.
Decisions to get a CT scans for both
children and adults are made with the
patient’s best interests in mind. The need for
information is balanced against the risks of

Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 12/2016 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing HF#5672.