Reducing Radiation from Medical X-rays (Consumer Update)

Reducing Radiation from Medical X-rays (Consumer Update)


This “Consumer Update” is
brought to you by the U.S. Food & Drug
Administration. X-rays are used more often
and on more people today than ever before. That’s because they are
extremely effective in the assessment of injuries
and early detection of diseases, and they are
readily available in doctor’s offices,
clinics and hospitals Some parts of our bodies
absorb x-rays more than others. That’s why parts of
an x-ray may appear white and others may appear black. The benefits of medical
x-rays far outweigh the risks. Although the chances of
being harmed by medical x-rays is extremely
small, there is a slight increase in the chance of
developing cancer later in life, and skin burns
and cataracts can occur following prolonged
exposure or very high doses. It is the radiation dose
absorbed by the patient that contributes to the
patient dose. Some examinations
expose the patient to higher radiation doses than others. FDA works to reduce
radiation doses to the public while preserving
image quality by establishing safety
standards for x-ray equipment, recommending
good practices and conducting educational
activities aimed at minimizing
unnecessary exposure. In addition, we work
with states to annually inspect mammography
facilities and test equipment. As a patient and consumer,
you have an important role in reducing your risks
from medical X-rays. FDA recommends that you Ask how an X-ray will help
and if there other options that might be
as effective. Don’t refuse or
insist on an X-ray. The risk of NOT having a
needed X-ray is greater than the small risk
from radiation. At the same time, don’t
demand an unnecessary X-ray. Tell the technologist
if you are or might be pregnant. Ask if a protective
shield can be used-a lead apron or other shield
may be appropriate. And finally, know
your X-ray history. You should keep a list of your
x-ray examinations and provide that to your health care
professional. That way you will help reduce the risk of unnecessary exposure due to
duplicate x-ray examinations. For more information on
this and other health topics, visit
FDA.GOV/Consumer


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