Navigation Links
Radiation Exposure of Pregnant Women More than Doubles in 10 Years

CHICAGO, Nov. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- The past decade has seen an unprecedented increase in the use of radiologic exams on pregnant women, according to a study presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

"Through medical imaging examinations, we are exposing pregnant women to twice the amount of radiation as we did 10 years ago," said Elizabeth Lazarus, M.D., assistant professor of diagnostic imaging at the Warren Alpert School of Medicine at Brown University in Providence, R.I. "Overall, the levels of radiation to which we are exposing pregnant women are low, but they do carry a slight risk of harm to the developing fetus."

The researchers conducted a retrospective review of selected imaging examinations -- nuclear medicine, computed tomography (CT) and plain-film x-rays -- performed at Brown to determine how often these imaging exams were utilized in pregnant women and the estimated resulting radiation dose to the fetus. Data were compiled for the years 1997 through 2006 and compared to the number of infant deliveries per year.

The investigators found that from 1997 to 2006, the number of imaging studies performed on pregnant women increased by 121 percent. The greatest increases were in the number of CT exams, which deliver more radiation than many other radiologic procedures. An abdominal CT exposes the patient to a radiation amount more than twice that of an x-ray of the lower gastrointestinal tract. An abdominal ultrasound exposes the patient to no ionizing radiation.

CT is not routinely used in pregnancy, but pregnant women may undergo CT to detect suspected life-threatening conditions such as bleeding in the brain, blood clots in the lungs or appendicitis. Since CT exposes the developing fetus to radiation, concerns are often raised regarding overuse. The majority of CT examinations (approximately 75 percent) analyzed in the study were performed in areas of the mother's body separate from the uterus, so the fetus was not exposed to any direct radiation. Even low levels of radiation have been shown to carry a small risk of harm to a developing fetus.

"While performing CT exams during pregnancy is still uncommon, we found that pregnant women are being recommended for CT more often over the last 10 years," Dr. Lazarus said.

The researchers evaluated 5,235 examinations on 3,249 patients. During the 10 years of the study, the number of patients imaged per year increased from 231 to 447, and the number of exams per year increased from 325 to 730. This represented an 89 percent increase in patients and a 121 percent increase in examinations over the course of the study. During the same 10 years, the number of deliveries only increased from 8,661 to 9,261, a rise of only 7 percent or less than 1 percent annually.

Use of plain-film x-rays increased an average of 7 percent per year, and the number of nuclear medicine examinations rose by approximately 12 percent annually. CT examinations increased by approximately 25 percent per year. The average estimated fetal radiation exposure for CT was 0.69 rads, compared to 0.04 rads for nuclear medicine and 0.0015 rads for plain-film x-rays.

Other studies have shown that use of high-tech modalities, such as CT and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), has increased in all patient populations throughout the United States. According to Dr. Lazarus, some of this increase is due to the development of new imaging techniques to better diagnose abnormalities, and some is due to motivation by hospitals and insurers to make fast diagnoses to shorten hospital stays and improve patient care.

Dr. Lazarus cautions healthcare consumers to be aware of this trend. "I want to assure patients that CT can be a safe, effective test for pregnant patients," she said. "However, there are alternatives that should at least be explored. Pregnant patients should ask their doctors about other imaging or diagnostic tests that may not expose the fetus to radiation."

Co-authors are C. Debenedectis, M.D., W. Mayo-Smith, M.D., and Patricia Spencer, M.D.


-- Today pregnant women are undergoing more radiologic exams than they did

10 years ago.

-- The use of CT on pregnant women has increased 25 percent per year over

the past decade.

-- CT exposes the fetus to higher doses of radiation compared to other

imaging exams.

Note: Copies of RSNA 2007 news releases and electronic images will be available online at beginning Monday, Nov. 26.

RSNA is an association of more than 41,000 radiologists, radiation oncologists, medical physicists and related scientists committed to excellence in patient care through education and research. The Society is based in Oak Brook, Ill. (

Editor's note: The data in these releases may differ from those in the printed abstract and those actually presented at the meeting, as researchers continue to update their data right up until the meeting. To ensure you are using the most up-to-date information, please call the RSNA Newsroom at 1-312-949-3233.

SOURCE Radiological Society of North America
Copyright©2007 PR Newswire.
All rights reserved

Related medicine news :

1. Informational handout key to giving parents a better understanding of CT radiation risks
2. Prophylactic cranial irradiation in small cell lung cancer significantly increases survival
3. Different method of evaluating the urinary tract system reduces radiation dose
4. Radiation and drug combo helps boost efficacy of lung cancer treatment
5. Nucletron Announces Management Buy-Out to More Effectively Meet the Demands of Its Customers and the Radiation Therapy Community
6. Radiation therapy technique reduces length of prostate cancer treatment
7. Radiation therapy technique reduces length of prostate cancer treatment
8. Jefferson radiation oncologists use real-time system to plant seeds against cancer
9. Radiation Therapy Services Acquires North Carolina Facility
10. NASA, NSBRI Select 17 Proposals in Space Radiation Research
11. Breast Cancer Radiation Wont Hurt Immune Health
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... Austin residents seeking Mohs surgery services, ... Mohs Surgery and to Dr. Russell Peckham for medical and surgical dermatology. , Dr. ... skin cancer. The selective fellowship in Mohs Micrographic Surgery completed by Dr. Dorsey was ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... ... non-athletes recover from injury. Recently, he has implemented orthobiologic procedures as a method ... —Johnson is one of the first doctors to perform the treatment. Orthobiologics are ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... June 19, 2016 is World ... with chronic pain and the benefits of holistic treatments, Serenity Recovery Center ... with Sickle Cell Disease. , Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is a disorder of the ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... Diego, CA (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 , ... ... with the American Cancer Society and the Road To Recovery® program to drive cancer ... to seniors and other adults to ensure the highest quality of life and ongoing ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... ... Grove Investment Group (TGIG), has initiated cultivation and processing operations at its production ... and Pahrump, Nevada. , Puradigm is the manufacturer of a complete system of ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... June 24, 2016 ... announced the addition of the " Global Markets ... This report focuses ... an updated review, including its applications in various applications. ... market, which includes three main industries: pharmaceutical and biotechnology, ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... Calif. , June 24, 2016  American Respiratory Labs (ARL), ... is now able to perform sophisticated lung assessments in patients, homes, ... , Inc. Patients are no longer limited to ... EasyOne PRO ® , ARL patients like Jeanne R. of ... in the comfort of her own home. ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... Belgium , June 24, 2016 ... the appointment of Dr. Edward Futcher ... Non-Executive Director, effective June 23, 2016.Dr. Futcher was ... Nominations and Governance Committees.  As a non-executive member ... independent expertise and strategic counsel to VolitionRx in ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: