are cat scans safe during pregnancy

CT Scan. Receiving a CT scan during pregnancy has not been shown to increase radiation exposure to the fetus. Even though CT scans use more radiation than x-rays, the increase is not enough to create additional risk for an unborn child. The one exception may be imaging of the pelvis or abdominal areas.

Why do you need a CT exam?

If your symptoms need to be treated or if the results of your exam need to be explained, your doctor might prescribe a computed tomography (CT) scan if you can’t wait until after the baby is delivered.

There are numerous reasons why you might require a CT scan, but your physician can go over what kind of data the scan is looking for. You should enquire about the reasons for this medical imaging exam and your doctor’s concerns.

Imaging tests are performed to look inside the body and help identify any health issues. CT is a widely used imaging exam. As CT uses x-ray radiation, it should only be utilized when absolutely necessary.

Other imaging tests, such as ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which do not require x-rays, may be used in a pregnant patient if they provide the information your doctor needs and the baby is also being examined.

If information needs to be obtained quickly or answers obtained by ultrasound or MRI are not available, CT might be the best imaging choice. You and your physician will need to decide this together.

CT risks during pregnancy

There is no radiation risk to the unborn child if the abdomen or pelvis is not being studied, as in the case of a head or chest CT scan.

There is no evidence that the radiation dose used in routine CT imaging could harm a developing fetus. Nonetheless, there might be a very small risk to the unborn child if the CT scan looks at the abdomen or pelvis region. Pregnant women who are exposed to CT scans may increase their child’s risk of developing cancer by one in a thousand. However, the degree of risk is unknown and might not even exist. If the CT technologist and radiologist know you are pregnant, they will modify the exam procedures to reduce the radiation exposure to your unborn child. Radiologists are medical imaging specialists.

If you’re afraid of radiation, you shouldn’t turn down a CT scan that’s required to diagnose your potentially dangerous or urgent illness. Because the baby depends on the mother to stay well and carry her pregnancy to term, keeping the mother healthy is the most important factor in having a healthy baby.

The objective is to care for the mother, as she is more likely to become seriously ill with an illness like appendicitis.

Contrast agent may need to be injected intravenously into an arm vein for certain CT exams.

Contrast material does cross the placenta to your baby. It has been used in pregnancy for decades without harm. Use of contrast material has not been shown to harm.

Being ill is unpleasant, and major illnesses can be particularly dangerous when they occur during pregnancy. But for the baby to survive and grow to term, the mother must maintain her health. If doing a CT scan is necessary to help the mother get better, the baby’s health will also benefit.

Why are they Performed?

CAT scans are utilized to evaluate the body’s internal structures. Common problems a CAT scan may find include:

  • Head – blood clots, skull fractures, tumors, and infections
  • Spine – vertebral fractures and herniated invertebrate disks
  • Chest – heart abnormalities, lung abnormalities and infections
  • Abdomen – tumors, infections, abnormal anatomy, appendicitis, and cysts


What happens if you get a CAT scan while pregnant?

CT risks during pregnancy An unborn baby exposed to CT during pregnancy may have about a one in 1,000 greater chance of developing a cancer as a child. The level of risk is not proven though, and may be nonexistent.

Is MRI or CT safer for pregnancy?

If accessible in a timely manner, MRI should be considered as a safer alternative to CT imaging during pregnancy in cases in which they are equivalent for the diagnosis in question. Radiation exposure from CT procedures varies depending on the number and spacing of adjacent image sections Table 2.

Are CT scans safe for baby?

Children are more sensitive than adults to the effects of radiation, and studies show that childhood CT scans increase the lifetime risk of brain tumors, leukemia, thyroid cancer, colon cancer, and others. The younger the age of the child, the greater the sensitivity to the effects of ionizing radiation.

Is CT scan done during pregnancy?

Ionizing radiation from CT may result in teratogenic effects to the fetus at high doses up to 15 weeks postconception. A CT scan that does not include the gravid uterus in the field-of-view results in negligible fetal dose and may be performed in pregnancy without risk to the fetus.