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Sunday, January 5, 2020

How risky are X-rays for health?

How risky are X-rays for health? - upgainer.com

All people are naturally exposed to the same radiation produced by x-rays, called ionizing radiation and that comes from soil, water or vegetation where more than 60 natural radioactive materials are found. There is also artificial ionizing radiation, the most frequent of which is used in medical procedures.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), this radiation, beyond certain thresholds, can burn the skin and affect the functioning of organs and tissues. Ana Patricia Castro Sabogal, head of the radiology department of the Country clinic and the La Colina clinic in Bogotá, explains that radiation in a cumulative way or in large doses damages cells directly and breaks bits of their DNA, which alters them and It produces diseases like cancer.

Castro Sabogal explains that the radiation a patient receives when an x-ray is done is not of high intensity, is well indicated and does not generate major problems for the person, since it has no risks. In addition, to protect patients, Colombian legislation states that radiographs cannot be performed that are not ordered by a doctor, who has the criteria to determine when they are necessary and when they may be risky.

As the ionizing radiation accumulates in the body, all medical procedures that use it today write in their reports the dose the patient received. This varies according to the intensity, the time that is used and the organ of the body that receives it, as some tissues are more sensitive than others. If a person wants to know how much ionizing radiation he has received in his life through X-rays, he can add up the doses of all medical tests in which it has been used.

What dose is worrisome? Castro Salgado explains that there is a radiation table of limits given by age, gender and type of radiation, but clarifies that it is almost impossible for a patient to reach these limits only because of the amount of x-rays taken throughout life "Normally, the only patients who receive more radiation are those hospitalized who have many studies, but this is being monitored permanently," said the radiologist.

The figures also indicate that everyday medical exams are not very dangerous. The WHO explains that the effective dose is used to measure ionizing radiation in terms of its potential to cause damage. The unit to measure it is the sievert (Sv), which takes into account the type of radiation and the sensitivity of tissues and organs. The sievert is a very large unit, so smaller units are used, such as the millisievert (mSv) or the microsievert (µSv).

According to the WHO, "studies carried out in populations exposed to high-dose radiation, such as atomic bomb survivors or patients undergoing radiotherapy, have shown a significant increase in cancer risk with doses greater than 100 mSv" .

''Studies in populations exposed to radiation at high doses have shown a significant increase in cancer risk with doses greater than 100 mSv.''

Fortunately, the doses of frequent medical procedures such as X-rays are infinitely lower. According to data from the American College of Radiology, with X-rays on one limb, a person receives a radiation of 0.001 mSv or with an x-ray in the spine, 1.5 mSv.

There are much less frequent medical procedures that produce higher radiation, such as nuclear medicine. For example, according to the same source, a CT scan can produce a radiation of 25 mSv.

There are also other procedures for imaging studies that do not produce radiation such as ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging. In addition, as radiology has progressed in the world, it increasingly uses radiation in smaller doses without damaging the quality of the images.

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