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3 Different But Common Medical Procedures That You Should Be Wary Of | Amoils.com

Added April 11, 2012, Under: Doctors

Mexican doctor talking with Chinese patient about xray

Medical procedures are of course expensive to carry out by the medical practitioner and even more expensive for the patient or health insurance company to pay for.  But are they always necessary?  These three medical procedures are expensive but can also be harmful when used unnecessarily and without good reason.

X-rays

These of course by their very nature involve radiation. Radiation is toxic to human cells and is known to cause serious health problems such as cancer. Unfortunately, not everybody responds to radiation in the same way. There is no knowing what dosage will be safe for one person while extremely harmful for another. You will hear both sides of the argument between those who consider X-rays to be carried out at safe levels and the complete opposite where others feel they pose a high level of risk.

In addition, you have to take into account that X-rays are cumulative as well as the risk of technicians making errors or equipment being miscalibrated. How many X-rays are you likely to have during a single year including visits to the dentist and other medical practitioners?  A new study has shown a link between frequent dental X-rays and an increased risk of developing non-cancerous brain tumors.  Researchers are using this study as a reminder of the dangers of frequent dental X-rays.

Dr. Elizabeth Claus, a professor of public health at the Yale University School of Public Health (and a neurosurgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital) led the study which was recently published in the journal Cancer.  Dr. Anita Gohel, director of radiology at Boston University’s Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine, said students are taught to do a detailed visual and clinical exam first before breaking out the X-ray, therefore exposing patients to the lowest amount of radiation possible. She said  “X-rays do cause harm, we all know that, so the benefit should always outweigh the risk, and that’s what we teach dental students.” Radiation exposure from all common medical imaging tests is surprisingly large and poses substantial risks.

CT Scans or computed tomography

These use X-rays to provide a cross section view of the body. If you are at all concerned about X-rays, then you need to know that CT scans are very much more dangerous as they can emit up to 500 times the radiation of X-rays. While doctors find CT scans to be a very useful diagnostic tool, providing enhanced imaging, what are the long term consequences for you the patient?  It is thought that CT scans are so powerful that they could be causing up to 2% of all cancers in the USA so you really need to weight up the benefits versus the risks.  Both X-rays and CT scans have become so ordinary and routine that they may have lulled us into a sense of complacency.  CT scans can of course be life saving if they  find a perforated appendix or a fractured skull or a blood clot in the lung when other tests are inconclusive.  The USA has the highest per capita rate of CT scans in the world with some 70 million CT scans being carried out every year.  Since 1980, the number of CT scans have risen by more than 20 times.

MRIs

These are often regarded as the “radiation-free” way to get good medical imaging and therefore a safer option. The MRI scan is used to investigate or diagnose conditions that affect soft tissue such as: tumors ( including cancer); soft tissue injuries such as damaged ligaments; joint injury or disease; spinal injury or disease; injury or disease of internal organs including the brain, heart and digestive organs.

However, in some cases such as in the investigation of blood vessels, a contrast dye is injected into a vein immediately prior to the scan. This helps to produce a clearer picture. In rare cases, a patient may have an allergic reaction to the contrast dye. However, this contrast agent contains the radioactive element, gadolinium. Once injected, this radioactive contrast courses through your entire body via your circulation system ensuring a direct source of radioactive contamination. While the government and medical establishment say this radioactive concoction is safe, it does come with a long list of minor side effects and a small chance of major side effects including death. You need to be aware of this possibility so that you do not have such a procedure (when such a contrast agent has to be injected) unless it is absolutely necessary.

Mamograms are a further procedure involving radiation which women should be knowledgeable about. I have written on these in my post.

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