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When Friends or Patients Ask About
May 12, 1978

The Safety of X-ray Examination or Radioisotope Scan

Author Affiliations

From the Radiation Biology and Biophysics Section, Department of Radiology, the Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

JAMA. 1978;239(19):2031-2032. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03280460099036

CONCERN over radiation hazards sometimes leads to medically unwise decisions on the part of patients and, sometimes, even physicians. The purpose of this article is to provide information to enable the physician to guide patients in their assessment of risks from radiation.

General Principles  The basic consideration is: does the benefit of the procedure outweigh the hazard? The basic recommendation is that almost without exception, if there is a reasonable medical indication for the study, the benefits outweigh the risks.The basis for this all-inclusive recommendation lies in an understanding of the nature and magnitude of the risks associated with radiation exposures in medical practice. The Table demonstrates some average doses to gonads and examined organs for some common diagnostic procedures. This information, in conjunction with the following discussion of potential deleterious effects of radiation, provides the basis for estimating risks. Regardless of the magnitude of the risks, it is