Imaging Center | CT Scan Radiation Safety FAQs

Q: I’ve recently read a couple articles about CT Scan radiation dose. Should I be concerned about a CT Scan; what will be the radiation dosage?
A: The potential medical benefit of appropriately ordered CT scans far outweighs the small cancer risk from the radiation dose. Radiation dose depends on factors such as body area scanned and patient size. An average patient having an abdomen CT scan at Hartford Hospital, receives an effective dose of about 5 milliGray (mGy). By comparison, an average person receives about 3 mGy radiation dose every year from natural background radiation.

Q:What does naturally-occurring background radiation exposure mean?
Naturally-occurring background radiation refers to sources of radiation that occur in nature, and to which everyone is always exposed. It includes cosmic rays from outer space and to small amounts of radioactive isotopes that naturally exist in all materials. The average annual background radiation dose of 3 mGy actually varies from place to place, depending on soil composition, altitude, etc.

Q:What’s my risk for cancer from a CT Scan?
The risk depends on the radiation dose and body area scanned. The 5 mGy dose estimate for an average patient’s abdomen CT at Hartford Hospital corresponds to a risk of 0.00025; that is, one quarter of 1 tenth of 1 percent.. 

Q:What does it mean that patients had a radiation overdose from CT Scan of the brain from a Times Magazine article?
A: Patients cited in that article received a special “neuro-perfusion” CT exam. This exam performs several scans around the same “slice” of the head order to evaluate blood flow in possible stroke victims. If not properly performed, the radiation dose can exceed thresholds for certain effects such as hair loss in the exposed region. Other symptoms referred to in that article, such as whole body rashes, having nothing to do with the radiation dose.

Q:What is the name of the company which manufactures your CT Scan machine?
Our CT scanners are manufactured by General Electric. 

Q: I have had multiple CT Scans this year and need another, how will this affect me?
There is a small cancer risk associated with radiation from any x-ray exam, just as there is a risk of an accident each time you ride in a car—the more you drive, the more the chance of an accident. However, it is important to be sure that your doctors are aware of the prior exams, in order to avoid uncertain duplication. 

Q: I have cancer and will the CT Scan make it worse?
No. Although all uses ionizing radiation comes with a small risk of causing a cancer, it has no effect on an existing cancer.

Q: Are your technologists certified?
Yes. All our technologists certified by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists and are licensed by the state of Connecticut.

Also in this Section

CT Scan Radiation Safety FAQs

Frequently asked questions about CT Scan Radiation safety.

Patient Fact Sheets

The following Fact Sheets are available for common procedures and exams performed at the Imaging Center.

Patient Guides

The following Patient Guides are available (in both English and Spanish) for common procedures and exams performed at the Imaging Center.

Web Resources

Helpful resources about radiology and imaging services from around the web.