Welcome to the Radiology Forum! Questions in this forum are being answered by medical professionals. Topics covered in this forum include Breast Imaging, CT/CAT Scan, Mammography, MRI, Nuclear Medicine, Radiation Therapy, Ultrasound and X-rays.
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 Massahcusetts?
I am a mammo tech so maybe I can have more insight for you. Firat off sorry you had a bad experience there is no need to be rude in any situation, as that is how i wouldnt want to be treated. You can control the amount of radiation if you use a manual technique but most places use an automatic technique which the machine decides how much is needed to get a quality picture depending on the pt. however every women is different and some women are a fatty breast tissue and some women are a dense breast tissue. Dense meaning like a thicker or lumpy breast. With dense breast tissue because it is thicker takes more radiation to penetrate through hence the longer exposure. But to make you feel better mammograms are a low dose radiation exam and you get more radiation being out in the sun for a day to give you a comparison. You can get the dosage amounts but the phycists is usually the one to calculate your actual dosage but if you call and ask they should be able to tell you. As far as shielding for the thyroid there was a statement put out by our accreditation say a thyroid Sheild isn't needed for this type of exam. The reason is X-ray travels in straight lines and only goes to where the light is that you see on the platform, where the breast goes on the machine. After that all that would get to the thyroid is possibly whatever leftover radiation of scatter X-rays which is only a minimal amount of the original radiation dose, and only stays for less than a second. Hope this helps.
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