Many things are especially important during pregnancy, such as eating right, cutting out cigarettes and alcohol, and being careful about the prescription and over-the-counter drugs you take. Diagnostic x -rays and other medical radiation procedures of the abdominal area also deserve extra attention during pregnancy.
There is scientific disagreement about whether the small amounts of radiation used in diagnostic radiology can actually harm the unborn child, but it is known that the unborn child is very sensitive to the effects of things like radiation, certain drugs, excess alcohol, and infection. If radiation or other agents were to cause changes in these cells, there could be a slightly increased chance of birth defects or certain illnesses, such as leukemia, later in life.
It should be pointed out, however, that the majority of birth defects and childhood diseases occur even if the mother is not exposed to any known harmful agent during pregnancy. Scientists believe that heredity and random errors in the developmental process are responsible for most of these problems.
There are, however, rare situations in which a woman who is unaware of her pregnancy may receive a very large number of abdominal x -rays over a short period. This is important for many medical decisions, such as drug prescriptions and nuclear medicine procedures, as well as x -rays.
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, x -rays are generally safe during pregnancy, but there is quite a bit of controversy surrounding this issue. Studies have been conflicting and, therefore, x -rays should only be done when the benefits outweigh the risks.
X -rays can give your health care provider important and even life-saving information about numerous medical conditions. Not all x -rays are the same, but most pose little exposure to the uterus and developing a fetus.
Despite repeated courses of oral antibiotics her symptoms had slowly worsened, resulting in a referral for specialist review. Urgent bronchoscopy revealed a large vascular tumor obstructing the left upper lobe.
A computed tomography (CT) scan confirmed a hypervascular lesion centered on the left upper lobe bronchus, which was most consistent with a carcinoid tumor, and several lymph nodes in the perivascular space. She had an elective cesarean section at 35 weeks followed by a left upper lobectomy two days later.
Paraffin embedded section showed tumor at the peribronchial margin and one metastatic Hilary lymph node. The clinical team were reluctant to do a chest radiograph, but after discussion with a radiologist they did so at 12 days post-admission, revealing a large anterior mediastinal mass and right pleural effusion (fig 2 ).
A mediastinoscopy confirmed the diagnosis of grade 2 nodular sclerosis Hodgkin’s lymphoma and an ultrasound of the abdomen showed no disease beneath the diaphragm. The patient was found to have stage IIT disease, was treated with pulsed steroids, and was induced at 34 weeks when she delivered a healthy girl by normal vaginal delivery.
After six cycles of chemotherapy a positron emission tomography and CT showed no residual active disease. Symptoms such as coughing and breathlessness may be experienced by healthy pregnant patients, which can result in clinicians failing to consider a full differential diagnosis.
According to the British Thoracic Society Guidelines, a chest radiograph should be undertaken in all patients complaining of a chronic cough (defined as lasting more than eight weeks). These associated symptoms should be ruled out by direct questioning and the guidelines should be followed in all patients, including pregnant women.
The risk posed by the underlying disease process to a pregnant woman and her developing fetus outweighs that of low dose radiation, as highlighted in these two cases. Doctors need to know the relative radiation risk to the fetus, in order to counsel and reassure patients appropriately.
Estimation of the absorbed dose for organs and tissues of a radiological procedure is quantified in Gray (GY). The effective dose to the patient, which takes into account the type of radiation used and the tissues irradiated, is measured in Sievert (SV).
6 They used exposure factors that enabled the estimation of the upper level of doses possible from a chest radiograph. The later the stage of pregnancy the greater the radiation dose, because of the proximity of the gravid uterus.
The most recent publication from the Royal College, Making the Best Use of Clinical Radiology Services, suggests that the referring clinician and radiologist should discuss pregnant patients who need a radiograph, keep the patient fully informed, and clearly document the decision. Sometimes, X -rays are needed during the course of pregnancy to provide the doctor with important information on a woman’s condition if certain disease is suspected.
Most people believe that X -rays are harmful to the unborn baby as there could be risks of deformities and other congenital conditions. In fact, countless research studies have been conducted and these offer conflicting results.
However, x -rays such as the abdomen, pelvis, lower back and kidneys, have a greater chance of exposure to the baby. If you think you've been exposed to large amounts of radiation, tell your health care provider immediately.
Use radios, TVs, computers and mobile devices to get current information from officials in your area. If you think you’ve been exposed to large amounts of radiation, tell your health care provider immediately.
During pregnancy, your body protects your baby from most radiation that you’re exposed to every day. Most babies born to moms who come in contact with low amounts of radiation during pregnancy aren’t at increased risk for birth defects.
Birth defects change the shape or function of one or more parts of the body. If you swallow or breathe in radioactive material during pregnancy, it can get into your bloodstream and pass through the umbilical cord to your baby.
It also can build up in areas of your body that are close to your uterus (womb), such as your bladder. Exposure to large amounts of radiation, equal to having more than 500 chest X-rays at one time, is not common.
It did happen to women in Japan after the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Exposure to extremely large amounts of radiation, equal to having more than 5,000 chest X-rays at one time, also is not common.