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While CT scans can be truly life-saving, it's never a bad idea to minimize the amount of ionizing radiation you're exposed to. Make sure you ask these questions.

January 15, 2015

While CT (aka computed tomography) scans can be truly life-saving, it's never a bad idea to minimize the amount of ionizing radiation you're exposed to. Ionizing radiation from medical imaging tests including CTs, X-rays, and mammograms can damage your cells’ DNA, which may, over time, lead to cancer.

To ensure you're getting a safer scan, ask these questions at your facility, suggests Richard Morin, PhD, professor of radiologic physics at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, and founding chair of the American College of Radiology’s Dose Index Registry:

Are you accredited by the ACR?

“That means the facility has to provide data about the types of exams they do, take routine measurements of doses and test their image quality,” Morin says.

RELATED: 6 Key Medical Scans and What They Should Cost

Do you participate in the Dose Index Registry?

This is a program created by the ACR in an effort to compare dosage information across facilities. Membership means they’re making an effort to lower doses to standard, industry-wide levels.

RELATED: The Hidden Dangers of Medical Scans

Have you pledged to Image Wisely?

This program, created by the American College of Radiology (ACR) and the Radiological Society of North America, is focused on optimizing the amount of radiation used in imaging studies and eliminating inessential CTs and other scans. “If the answer is yes you should feel consoled that the facility is committed to scanning as safely as possible,” Morin says.

RELATED: 9 Everyday Sources of Radiation

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