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Chest X-Ray, the Side Effects


I was wondering if there's a limit to the number of chest X-ray needed for general purpose, not treatment, just a health exam?

Is there any dangerous from repetitive exposure to such checks?

What are the dangerous and when is someone possibly under risk when they take how many times x-rays?

Could not find a suitable forum, but this one.

12 Responses
Avatar universal
The radiation used to take a diagnostic (regular) chest xray is very small.  Radiation exposure is measured in Rads, or Rems (same thing).  The chest xray uses an average of 3/100 of 1 Rad.  You get more radiation in one day at the beach than you do with a chest xray.  Radiation does accumulate in the body and is recorded.  You should not recieve over 5 Rads of radiation per year.  That's alot of xrays. Hope this info helps.
Avatar universal

So does it differ that a person takes a serries of X-rays in one year than taking them separated by a couple of years?  Does that lessen the accumulation of the radiations?

And how does it harmful to the body or chest?

Best Wishes!
Avatar universal
There are two "types" of radiation exposure. Body part radiation and whole body radiation.  Chest xrays are a "body part", as is fingers, toes, feet, etc.  Whole body is when the entire body is xrayed, such as with some types of CT exams and flouroscopy exams.  You can have alot of "body part" xrays without too much worry.  When you have many xrays of the same part, such as fingers or toes, you have some increased risk of arthritis in the future, but that would have to be alot of xrays over time.  If the radiation is on the genitials, such as abdominal, pelvic, or lower spinal xrays, you can kill some eggs or some sperm which can reduce fertility.  Lead aprons and lead gonad covers are generally used in xrays to prevent this side effect. All xray places are required to have these, so if you are worried, make sure you ask for coverage".  Not all exams can be performed with lead protection. Lead blocks radiation wherever it is placed.  If lead will block any body area that needs to be seen, then lead cannot be used. Xray series that has alot of pictures, like spinal xrays, are fine several times a year.  The actual total dose of radiation is low even though it seems like an awful lot.  Not to worry unless you plan on going for a whole body CT, which is becoming popular.  These have a great deal of radiation and are not to be taken lightly.  Another source of radiation is UV, like in tanning booths. You are exposed to radiation similiar to that of xrays, but it is whole body radiation.  If you get red, you are getting something like 50 chest xrays worth of radiation at once and it is unmonitored radiation.  Just use common sense and you will be just fine.  Hope this helps.
Avatar universal
Thanks alot mate! I appreciate you invaluable information.
Avatar universal
Just to add some inportant information to the first response here.

A RAD is NOT the same thing as a REM. A RAD is Radiation Absorbed Dose and is superceded in todays medicine by the Gray SI unit. A Gray (Gy) is one hundredth of a RAD. A gray is a unit to describe joules of energy absorbed in matter
1 rad = 0.01 gray (Gy) = 0.01 joule of energy absorbed per kilogram of matter.

REM is Roentgen or Radiation Equivalent in Man.  It is the product of the absorbed dose in röentgens (R) and the biological efficiency of the radiation. So essentially the measurement of the potnential biological effects of such radiation as opposed to the physical aspects. A REM is a lot of radiation so medicine today is measured in mREMs (milliREMs 1/1000 of a REM). The average chest x-ray delivers about.029 REM to the whole body, about the same amount as the normal radiation you will receive from background radiation sources in the Earth.

  Robert Akey R.T.(R)

Avatar universal
I've glad that I've found this topic!!

I read that on your reply to Jerry123, too much of radiation exposure can cause infertility.

### If the radiation is on the genitials, such as abdominal, pelvic, or lower spinal xrays, you can kill some eggs or some sperm which can reduce fertility. Lead aprons and lead gonad covers are generally used in xrays to prevent this side effect.###

I had an spinal x-rays done without lead protection/covers, severals pictures were taken during that single session, thus i'm not sure how many RAD I had exposed to.  Does it mean it could have caused infertility in me?

What can I do to confirm that?

Thanks much.
Avatar universal
You can not use lead protection over areas that are being x-rayed, because. You would not be able to view the part of interest. But lead aprons must be used over the none x-rayed part, especially in young children whose bone marrow are stil developing. It is your'e right as a patient to ask wether or not the x-rays are neccessary.  It is only you who are being harmed by it. But as previously mentioned, you must have been exposed to alot of x-rays to have a side-affect. You're body usually needs two days to recover the cells that has been damaged. That is why, the same exam can not be done two days in a row
Avatar universal
Q. How harmful or long term effects of radiation from chest x-ray can be if done ones or twice a year for say about 30-40 years?

Q. Can chest x-ray be linked to breast cancer?

Avatar universal
good questions.  theoretically yes there would be side effects to life long exposure.  one time is not harmful but accumulation through your life time can be.... this is often overlooked and doctors freely expose patients to radiation. even when they condition is minor.  
from a liability stand point its necessary for them to do it because it protects themselves from negligence.  for instance if someone comes in with flu like symptoms and they have a soarness at the chest.  the symptoms just sound like a lung infection so the doctor prescribes antibiotics.  a month later the patient dies from a cancerous tumor of the lung.  The family then sues the doctor of negligence.  Sounds stupid but the legal system allows people to do that and if the person is a primary care physician it is their responsibility to diagnose.  In reality it is the person responsibility of their own lives, not in the responsibility of someone else.

Unless you have symptoms of pathology, or some kind of trauma its always best to stay away from medical imaging.
Go to pubmed central to look at studies on xray and other health related research.  
Avatar universal
hi can i ask you a question? i been having a back pain for 2 months now, i see a doctor and he diagnose me of UTI then gave me an antibiotic fews days after i saw mucus with blood in tissure after i pee..

pls help..im worried

Avatar universal
A related discussion, im curios was started.
Avatar universal
A related discussion, chest xray radiation exposure was started.
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