Question: Does having a CT scan put me at risk for radiation exposure?
Answer: A computed tomography (CT) scan exposes patients to some radiation. But, in most cases, the benefits of a CT scan outweigh the risks.
Unlike a standard two-dimensional X-ray, the multidimensional CT scan can show bones and organs in detail. However, CT scanners use more radiation than X-ray machines. For instance, an adult’s stomach gets about 40 times more radiation from a CT scan of the abdomen than from an X-ray.
Radiation from CT scans poses a small risk for cancer. The estimated lifetime risk for death from cancer after an abdominal CT scan is 0.02 percent. The threat from a CT scan is far lower than the risk posed by many problems CT scans help detect. Some conditions CT scans can find, like bleeding or muscle and bone problems, would often have required exploratory surgery in the past.
To get the most benefit—and least risk—from CT scans: