What are X-rays and what do they do?
Waleed Alabsi says that X-rays consist of electromagnetic radiation that penetrates the human body and produces shadowlike images of organs and bones. This MEDICAL IMAGING can reveal signs of injury or disease. X-rays are utilized in medicine when conducting procedures such as radiography, fluoroscopy, and computed tomography. The amount of radiation absorbed by the body is low can produces no adverse effects. Large radiation doses are used in radiation oncology to prevent the multiplication of cancer cells.
How safe are X-rays?
According to Waleed Alabsi, X-rays are generally safe considering that the radiation dose that is absorbed during diagnosis is small. Studies conducted have shown that the radiation that is absorbed from a simple X-ray examination like a chest x-ray or an X-ray of the abdomen, skull, arms, pelvic region, or knees is quite low compared to radiation absorbed from natural sources. That said, we cannot rule out the possibility of the radiation dose causing cancer or genetic effects even though no practical evidence of such effects has been found from human studies.
Which procedures are associated with higher radiations doses?
Some procedures come with relatively higher radiation doses such as CT scans and interventional procedures like angiography and cardiac catheterization with about 100 to 1000 times more radiation than a chest X-ray.
What are the potential effects of radiation on my health?
A majority of diagnostic investigations according to Waleed Alabsi will not result in an adverse effect. A look into procedures with higher doses such as CT, interventional procedures, or multiple exposures shows that has the potential to cause biological effects in some cases. The relationship between dosage and risk is linear meaning that a higher absorbed dose results in a higher risk for adverse effects. Examples of adverse effects include skin redness, cataracts, infertility, and hair loss. However, there have been no reports showing radiation exposure in diagnostic and interventional procedures causing cataracts or infertility. Interventional procedures requiring fluoroscopy lasting one hour or more have been shown to cause radiation-induced skin injuries in patients.
How much radiation is acceptable?
Statistically, there are no prescribed limits on the number of radiation doses to patients. What this means is that there is no amount of radiation that is considered too much for a patient when the procedure has been elected by a doctor. When choosing the procedure to be done, the doctor looks into the benefits versus the risks. There is a principle utilized in such cases known as ALARA (As Low As Reasonably Achievable) which guides practices.
How to know if the X-ray facility is safe to perform the procedure?
Waleed Alabsi says that a fully qualified staff should be employed to maintain and periodically test X-ray equipment. Radiation safety measures also include the management of patient doses
How to know if you are getting the radiation dose that is needed and no more?
To determine whether the radiation doses are needed the following principles can prove to be helpful:
- When justifying the examination to be conducted, the benefits and risks should be considered with the exploration of other methods that don’t involve radiation exposure.
- Once the procedure is justified, the examination should be conducted with minimal doses of radiation. This involves the achievement of a good quality MEDICAL IMAGING while at the same tie keeping radiation exposure as low as possible
- The radiation administered should be compared with national regional or international reference levels indicating the approximate safe doses for different medical procedures
- Waleed Alabsi recommends that unnecessary repeat examinations should be avoided. There are cases where repeat examinations are required to check the progress of treatment such as in cancer treatment.