How much radiation will I receive from a medical test?

Radiation dose is measured with a unit called a millisievert (mSv). The radiation for various medical tests:
  • Chest x-ray = 0.1 mSv
  • Cardiac chest CT scan = 2-16 mSv
  • Coronary angiogram = 7 mSv
  • Coronary angioplasty/stent = 15 mSv
  • Nuclear stress test Tc-99m = 11.4 mSv
  • Nuclear stress test Thallium = 16.9 mSv
While amounts of background radiation vary depending on where you live, the average dose per year in the United States is 3 mSv. Radiation occurs naturally all around us. We are constantly exposed to radiation from outer space, from elements in the soil and from other natural and artificial sources. The human body even emits radiation because of the presence of certain forms of potassium and carbon. All of this radiation is referred to as background radiation. Understanding how much radiation each of us is exposed to in a year just through daily living can help provide context for radiation amounts from medical tests.

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Diagnostic Imaging

Diagnostic Imaging

Diagnostic imaging includes ultrasounds, X-rays, CT scans and MRIs. These create images of different parts of the body and aid in diagnosing diseases and conditions allowing for a course of treatment to be prescribed. Learn more a...

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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.