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21 March 2011 @ 11:59 pm
So...How Many X-Rays?  
I was trying to figure out even an estimate the other day of how many x-rays I've had.

I can remember quite a few during my childhood. I had x-rays as part of the Upper GI series, the first of which was during second grade when I was first diagnosed with gastritis. My stomach has always been ultra-sensitive and I produced too much acid any time I was upset. I probably had GERD early on, too. This test was repeated a few times during my childhood and teen years. At fifteen I started having abdominal pain that was classic for gallbladder but nothing showed up on the various GI series that were done over the years for that. Not until my thirties, 22 years later.

I also had a few x-rays from the chiropractor, and more when I hurt my lower back at work in the mid-90s.


Once I had heart disease the x-rays multiplied. Every time I went in with chest pain, another x-ray, and that's maybe 8-9 times in the last decade, or more. I wasn't counting. Walking pneumonia, another x-ray. Three angiograms=more x-ray exposure. Two cortisone injections=fluoroscopy=x-ray exposure. Mammograms (4)...and a big one, CT scans--I've had five that I can remember off the top of my head. Oh yeah, dental x-rays, lost count. And various x-rays of my wrist, legs, knees, foot. Several of my neck.

Given that my many x-rays started young, I am apparently at increased risk of getting cancer late in life. (I'm kind of counting on heart disease to save me from that.)

In any event, you can see why I'm not at all worried about the tiny amounts of radiation that can make it here, despite the distance and wind, from Japan.

http://www.fda.gov/Radiation-EmittingProducts/RadiationEmittingProductsandProcedures/MedicalImaging/MedicalX-Rays/default.htm

ETA: Also I've had a radioactive substance (thallium 201) injected into my bloodstream during 5 tests. The half life is 73.5 hours.
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litlebananalitlebanana on March 22nd, 2011 12:29 pm (UTC)
I don't think a single x-ray gives that much exposure... it's something like a plane flight, right? I never had an x-ray as a kid aside from dental, but I used to fly a reasonable amount.

The fluoro injections I know can be a fair amount of radiation, especially if they do live fluoro. A friend of mine works as an interventionalist though and although she covers with lead, she DOES dozens of these injections each week.... and she recently got pregnant. Now that would worry me a lot.
Tapatitapati on March 22nd, 2011 11:02 pm (UTC)
I've heard that x-rays give less exposure now than they did in the sixties and seventies. The CTs are much more than the x-rays which is the reason often given to discourage people from getting the full body CT scan.

I would imagine that no matter what protection, giving x-rays and fluoroscopic procedures would be riskier than getting the occasional one. I have a friend who works in dental hygiene and she took a piece of film and taped a penny and put it in her pocket. After a week she developed the film and the penny was clearly visible, and this despite the protections offered by the office. They offered her a radiation badge and she was told it tested in acceptable levels but she had to wonder.

One expert on a news show said even granite countertops emit radiation. I had no idea how many things in our day to day lives provide some level of radiation.

I found this interesting: http://xkcd.com/radiation/
carmy_wcarmy_w on March 22nd, 2011 02:23 pm (UTC)
XKCD put up a wonderful diagram a while back; someone linked it in an entry I saw yesterday....If I find it, I'll grab a link for it....
carmy_w: CoExistcarmy_w on March 22nd, 2011 02:34 pm (UTC)
Well, that didn't take long to find!

http://xkcd.com/radiation/

This is that link I spoke about. Very good explanation of the different levels of exposure, and how it relates to X-rays, etc.
Tapatitapati on March 22nd, 2011 11:02 pm (UTC)
Fascinating! Thanks. :)