Keeping Track of Your Imaging History

Bone Density test

Certain types of medical imaging expose patients to ionizing radiation. Radiologists use the smallest amounts of radiation possible, and the benefits of medical imaging usually outweigh the risks of not getting the procedure. Still, radiation exposure during CT scans and other medical imaging procedures is a concern for some patients. Keeping track of your medical imaging history can help provide confidence and help give medical professionals a better understanding of your medical history.

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Tracking your imaging history

If you receive all of your medical care from a single facility, you don’t have to worry about tracking your imaging history. However, you won’t always go to the exact same medical facility for medical imaging. Maybe you went to an urgent care clinic after breaking your arm on a ski trip, or you needed a chest x-ray in the ER.

Sometimes copies of your imaging history travel to facilities with you, and sometimes they don’t. Your imaging history may become less accurate over time. Keeping track of your medical history helps ensure that your records stay up to date and accurate.

Make sure you write down the type of exam that you have, the facility where the exam was performed, and the date of the procedure.

ex. Computed Tomography (CT) scan of the spine at MANA Imaging on November 11th, 2019

Scans produce different amounts of radiation

It’s important to specify the type of scan you receive while tracking your imaging history. The radiation dose depends on the type of procedure you receive.

For example, a standard chest x-ray exposes the patient to significantly less radiation than a CT scan of the chest.

  • Chest x-rays deliver 0.1 mSV, whereas a chest CT scan delivers 7 mSv.
  • A low radiation CT chest scan exposes the patient to 1.5 mSv, which is much lower than a standard computed tomography scan, but still higher than a standard x-ray scan.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging does not expose the patient to ionizing radiation.

Radiation exposure also depends on the part of your body being scanned. There’s usually more radiation dose for abdominal scans than for chest scans. Scans of the extremities (hands and feet) typically result in the lowest exposure; the approximate radiation dose for extremity scans is 0.001 mSv, which is equivalent to 3 hours of natural background radiation exposure.

Understanding your imaging history

Keeping track of your imaging history improves the accuracy of your records and improves the care you receive. However, don’t worry as your list of scans starts to grow longer.

The risk of negative effects from medical imaging radiation, such as cancer, are extremely low. There is no maximum limit for the number of imaging scans you should receive.

If your healthcare provider recommends an x-ray or CT scan, it’s because the image can improve the quality of care your receive and improve your health outcome.

Medical imaging can save lives, and should not be withheld if the scan can provide important health information.

However, don’t hesitate to ask questions before agreeing to a medical imaging procedure.

  • Why do I need this procedure?
  • How will this procedure improve my health care?
  • Is there an alternative that provides the same quality of care without the use of radiation?

Contact MANA for the highest quality medical imaging services in Northwest Arkansas. MANA Imaging and MRI is accredited by the American College of Radiology. ACR accreditation ensures that you receive the highest quality of care possible. Physicians and healthcare providers can call 479-684-3900 to schedule imaging services.