Pregnancy FAQs

PREGNANCY AND RADIOLOGICAL PROCEDURES

Pregnant-radiation-caution


PREGNANCY AND COMPUTERIZED TOMOGRAPHY (CT)

Chest CT

ct-chestIf the abdomen or pelvis is not being imaged, such as in chest or head CT, then there is no risk to the baby.

 

Abdomen and/or Pelvic CT

If the CT scan includes the abdomen or pelvis, then there may be a slight risk to the baby. An unborn baby exposed to CT during pregnancy may have a one in 1,000 greater chance of developing a cancer as a child. Some abdominal and pelvic studies such as CT deliver greater amounts of radiation to a developing pregnancy.

 


PREGNANCY AND MRI

ct-pregnancy

If you are pregnant or suspect you are pregnant, you should inform the MRI technologist and/or radiologist during the screening procedure before the MRI examination. In general, there is no known risk of using MRI in pregnant patients. Your doctor may order an MRI if you have symptoms that require treatment or exam results that need clarification but cannot wait until after the delivery of your baby.

In any case, MRI is safer for the fetus than imaging with x-rays or computed tomography (CT). MRI does not use x-rays. It uses radio waves and a powerful magnet to acquire images.

Breast-feeding and MRI

You should inform your radiologist if you are breast-feeding at the time of a scheduled MRI study if you may need to receive an MRI contrast agent. One option under this circumstance is to pump breast milk before the study, to be used until injected contrast material has cleared from the body, which typically takes about 24 hours. The radiologist will provide additional information to you regarding this matter.

In the end, the most important factor in having a healthy baby is ensuring a healthy mom, because the baby depends on mom to stay well and carry her pregnancy through.

 


PREGNANCY AND NUCLEAR MEDICINE

Radionuclide exams, also known as nuclear medicine, use an x-ray-like radiation. The method of use, however, is quite different from x-rays and produces very different looking images. The same advice for informing your physician or the nuclear medicine technologist about any possible pregnancy before the examination begins is important.

However, in nuclear medicine another precaution is advised for women who are breast-feeding a child. Some of the pharmaceuticals that are used for the study can pass into the mother’s milk and subsequently the child will consume them. To avoid this possibility, it is important that a nursing mother inform her physician and the nuclear medicine technologist about this before the examination begins.

 


PREGNANCY AND ULTRASOUND

PREGNANCY-ULTRASOUNDUltrasound studies don’t use x-rays and have never demonstrated any potential risk to pregnancy. The standard ultrasound arms your doctor with valuable information. It allows him to monitor your baby’s growth and track milestones, detect abnormalities, home in on your due date, determine whether you’re carrying multiples, see the position of your placenta (important for delivery), and (a big one for parents-to-be!) determine the sex of your baby.

An ultrasound is considered safe for both you and your baby when it’s used for medical purposes. Unlike X-rays, an ultrasound involves no radiation.

 


PREGNANCY AND X-RAYS

As with any aspect of medical care, knowing that a patient is or could be pregnant is important information. Pregnancy, for example, might explain certain symptoms or medical findings. When a pregnant patient is ill or injured, the physician will carefully select medications to avoid potential risks to the developing child. This is also true of x-rays.

While the vast majority of medical x-rays do not pose a critical risk to a developing child, there may be a small likelihood of causing a serious illness or other complication. The actual risk depends on how far along the pregnancy is and on the type of x-ray.

X-ray studies of the head, arms, legs and chest do not usually expose the baby directly to x-rays and typically the technologist who takes the x-rays will implement special precautions to ensure that the baby of a pregnant patient is not directly exposed.

Sometimes patients need examinations of the abdomen or pelvis while they are pregnant. When studies of the abdomen or pelvis are required, the physician may prefer to order a different type of exam for a pregnant patient or reduce the number of x-rays from that which is normally acquired. Therefore, it is important that you inform your physician or the x-ray technologist about your reproductive status before the x-ray study is performed.

Most standard x-ray examinations of the abdomen are not likely to pose a serious risk to the child. Informing the radiologist that you are or might be pregnant is important so that your medical care can be planned with both you and your baby in mind. Remember, this is done to optimize medical care by reducing any potential risk.


Important…

Please notify the Radiological Physician and/or Technologist if there is a possibility you are pregnant. Radiation is potentially harmful to a developing baby during pregnancy.

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