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Mammogram - Can the Tech. Zap X-tra Radiation?
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Mammogram - Can the Tech. Zap X-tra Radiation?

(I am re-posting my question here because I think I posted it in the wrong place the first time)

I had an unpleasant Mammogram experience this week. (The results were fine) When I asked the Tech. for a thyroid shield, she was annoyed, said it wasn't necessary and why did I want it, etc. Just for extra protection I said. She had to go down the hall to another area, and came back without it because there was an exam underway in that room. She said in an annoyed tone we would have to wait. I was apologetic but said I'd like to wait for the shield. The next time she went back she slammed the door on her way out and finally returned with a gonad shield for little boys, to use as a thyroid shield. Meanwhile I had wrapped the waist shield around me, and she said it was too high and lowered it, and scoffed that it was only needed if someone wanted to protect their fertility (I am post menopausal) And if it got in the way she would have to retake pictures. When she finally took the digital pictures. I thought the time that she activated the X-Ray machine seemed longer (at least 5 seconds for each picture) than it should take. My question: How much control does the technician have over the radiation exposure? Can they zap you longer than necessary if they just don't like you, say if you annoyed them with a need for protective gear?  Or can the machine only use a fixed anount of radiation exposure for each picture? Does the machine record and keep a record of how much exposure was used for each exam? Is there anyway I can find out what my actual dose was, and if it was too high? Are there any regulations about what protective equipment should be made available to those who request it? I will never get another mammogram at that facility again. Should I complain about the lack of protective shields available and the rude treatment I received for asking for it? Who can I complain to in Massachusetts?


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Avatar_dr_f_tn
Hi,
How are you? I'm sorry to hear about your mammogram experience. You can inform the facility customer service directly regarding your concern, about the technician's rude attitude and protective shield issues. While some studies may prove otherwise on the effect of such shields during mammogram, the way the technician treated you is still not acceptable. Standard radiation exposure is usually followed for such procedures. Take care and do keep us posted.
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi, I am sorry to hear of your terrible experience!  I agree that you should definitely contact that facility and put in a formal complaint.  There is never an excuse to treat a patient that way.  As a mammographer, I can tell you that at my facility we do not routinely shield our mammogram patients, unless they are younger or request a shield.  Our digital unit gives a very low radiation dose to the patient with minimal scatter radiation so the risk of irradiating other body tissues is very low.  BUT, we have shields available, and some patients do request them.  If they do, we provide them with what they ask without grumbling.  Shielding can make the imaging more difficult, but I never let the patient feel bad about wanting to protect themselves.  On to your next question...the technologist has a lot of control over the exposure given to the patient, to a certain extent.  It's hard to explain without giving you a radiation physics lecture, but in a nutshell, dense breasts require more exposure to penetrate for an adequate exam.  So I am wondering if maybe you have very dense breasts??  I hope that technologist wouldn't over expose you, but I guess you never know!  Hope this helps! :)
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