Medical Imaging...make an informed decision

27 Jun 2011 5:12 PM - Consider your options...

If you can get a hold of the June 2011 edition of Choice magazine, there is an interesting article on medical imaging. 

The article discusses the different types of imaging (eg CT scan, MRI, x-ray, ultrasound and PET scan. It looks at levels of radiation exposure and the costs of tests.  Interestingly, the costs (and gap payments) can vary considerably so it is worth making a few phonecalls to find out what your out-of-pocket expense will be.  And, according to Choice you can choose any imaging provider you are not locked in to the provider on the referral form. 

On the question of radiation exposure, it is worth noting that Ultrasounds and MRI's don't expose you to radiation while x-rays are associated with less radiation exposure than CT scans or PET scans.  So, I would encourage you to have a conversation with your doctor about: 

  • the need for the test
  • what the test will/won't show
  • how the results might influence treatment
  • the risks associated with the test
  • whether there is an alternative which might be safer. 

With regard to radiation exposure, you are the only person who can know what radiation you have been exposed to and it might be something you need to keep track of or at least be mindful of.  Individual exposure from tests may be low but it is cumulative and your GP may not know what dental x-rays you've had recently or how much flying you do ( the more you do the greater your exposure).  Given that radiation exposure has been linked to an increased risk of developing cancer in our lifetime it is perhaps something that you should give consideration to before you agree to that next imaging test!


In good health,


Kaye Wright