Podcast #163: Pregnancy and Radiation

61126a09-45de-45b5-9a33-b18ea86908b6Run Time: 3 minutes

Author: Jared Scott M.D.

Educational Pearls:

  • Pregnancy is a hypercoagulable state and often PE is a concern. When we work up PE in pregnancy the main consideration for harm to the fetus is radiation exposure.
  • The amount of radiation to cause harm to the fetus during pregnancy is thought to be 0.1 Gray.
  • If 0.1 Gray is the same as $100 of radiation then an X-ray = 1/10 of a penny of radiation, a CT PE scan = 25-50 cents of radiation, a VQ scan = 50-75 cents of radiation, and background radiation during the full pregnancy = $5 of radiation.
  • It has been shown that the amount of radiation needed to increase the risk of cancer before age 20 by 1/100 = $10 of radiation – or many, many CT’s and imaging studies.
  • CT scans irradiate both the breast tissue and the thyroid of females, which increases the lifetime risk of breast cancer by 1.5%, which is not an insignificant amount.
  • The VQ scan is the ideal test for PE during pregnancy, but the downside to a VQ scan is that the radioisotope collects in the bladder directly over uterus before it is urinated out, therefore it is not recommended in the first trimester.

Link to Podcast: http://medicalminute.madewithopinion.com/pregnancy-and-radiation/

References: https://www.thoracic.org/statements/resources/pvd/evaluation-of-suspected-pulmonary-embolism-in-pregnancy.pdf

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