It is important to have the right examination at the right time. Requests for x-ray examinations are only accepted if we expect the benefit of the examination to be greater than the risk. We compare the harm the radiation may cause you, to the harm you may suffer if you do not have the examination.
CT scans give the highest dose of radiation, but these are normally used to diagnose more complex conditions.
Ultrasound and MRI are very good at looking at some parts of the body, but sometimes
x-rays are much better or the only option.
Amounts of radiation you get
Everyone is affected by background radiation in their daily life. It comes from the ground, outer space, the food we eat and the air we breathe. A chest x-ray gives you about the same dose of radiation as a few days of background radiation. All diagnostic x-ray examinations are considered to be low dose, even CT scans, although these do give a lot more radiation than most other x-ray examinations.
The actual amount of radiation you get depends on the examination you are having, and on other things, like how heavy you are. Children are more sensitive to x-rays than adults. The risk of having an x-ray as you reach old age is less.
|Dental x-ray||2 days|
|Chest x-ray||4 days|
|Lumbar spine x-ray||4.5 months|
|Pelvis x-ray||4.5 months|
|CT scan||1.5 years|
|CT chest abdomen and pelvis||11 years|
|Flight from UK to USA||11 days|
|Average annual radon dose to people in Cornwall (similar geology to Jersey)||3.5 years|
X-rays in pregnancy are sometimes required. The radiation dose to the mother and baby are considered as well as whether or not the examination should be delayed until after the birth of the baby.
Amounts of radiation you get if you stay in the same room with someone having an x-ray
If you need to stay in the room with your child, or are the carer of a patient who requires your support, you get a much smaller dose of radiation than the patient. The radiographer will explain the procedure and the risks. You will be given a protective lead apron to wear and told where it is safer to stand. You will be asked to sign a form as we need to keep a record of who is in the room when an x-ray is taken.
Find out more about x-rays and their safety on the British Institute of Radiology website.
Radiation safety checks and accreditation
All requests for x-rays are checked carefully before they are accepted. We look to see if we can gather the information we need from previous examinations. We check to see if ultrasound or MRI can be used instead of x-rays.
The doses of radiation we use for the different examinations are monitored and compared to national standards. We work hard to ensure excellent image quality at the lowest dose. All the staff are trained and have to keep up to date with radiation safety.
The x-ray equipment is replaced on a regular basis and is looked after by specialist engineers.
Radiation safety experts from the UK make annual checks to ensure our practices are safe. A report of their findings is given to senior hospital managers.
We are also subject to annual scrutiny by U.K.A.S. They assess our performance and have awarded us Quality Standard for Imaging accreditation (QSI).