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If my doctor recommends a CT scan, what questions should I ask?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Every day 19,500 computed tomography (CT) scans are performed in the United States. From 2005 to 2007, more than 70% of American adults were zapped. But are CT scans safe? CT scans typically give you radiation equal to 75 chest X-rays. Based on research published by the National Cancer Institute, we now believe that around 29,000 future cases of cancer may result from the 72 million CT scans done in 2007 alone.

While a CT scan and other X-rays can be life-saving and make early diagnosis possible, always ask:
  • Is this scan necessary? (Ask three times!)
  • Could a different test with less radiation provide the needed information for my diagnosis?
  • Could a different test be as useful in determining how my condition is treated?
  • Is the scan set to use the lowest dose necessary for results?
  • Can I wait to see a specialist first?
Be scanner smart.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.