Take a drive round sure neighborhoods in Los Angeles and it’s possible you’ll spot as many indicators promoting physique scans as burger joints. Or possibly you’ve got seen the advertisements on TV or the web: “Shield your well being! Get a physique scan now!” 

Are whole-body CT scans actually in a position to try this – and what are the dangers? And are DEXA scans a great way to verify in your physique composition?

Whereas applied sciences differ, most of those high-tech checkups use computed tomography (CT) scans to look at your complete physique or particular components, such because the coronary heart and lungs, to attempt to catch harmful ailments in earlier, extra curable levels.

Throughout the 15- or 20-minute scan, you lie inside a doughnut-shaped machine as an imaging gadget rotates round you, transmitting radiation. The approach combines a number of X-ray photos and, with assistance from a pc, produces cross-sectional views of your physique. By analyzing the views, a physician can search for early indicators of abnormalities.

The scans aren’t low cost – whole-body scans run wherever from $500 to $1,000 per scan and normally aren’t reimbursed by insurance coverage. And the query of how useful these scans actually are is a matter of debate amongst medical specialists.

Advocates promote scans as a wise a part of a routine bodily examination. However if you happen to’re wholesome, with no worrisome signs, a scan is normally not warranted, says Arl Van Moore, MD, a radiologist and medical assistant professor of radiology at Duke College Medical Middle in Durham, NC, who can also be a spokesman for the American Faculty of Radiology (ACR).

In line with the ACR’s official place, there’s not sufficient proof to suggest scans for these with no signs or household historical past suggesting illness. However Van Moore sees a potential exception. “There could also be a profit to folks at excessive danger of lung cancers, comparable to present people who smoke or these with a protracted historical past of smoking,” he says. 

For wholesome folks, the scans could trigger undue fear – for example, by discovering one thing that seems to be benign. Plus, the quantity of radiation publicity, particularly with frequent scans, is one other concern. If scans are finished too usually, the radiation publicity may very well enhance the variety of most cancers instances over the long run, in line with a 2004 report within the journal Radiology.

The American Faculty of Preventive Drugs says that whole-body scans “aren’t excellent at discovering most cancers in folks with out signs” and that the radiation you get from these scans can enhance your danger of most cancers.

Earlier than scheduling a physique scan, discuss to your physician about your total well being dangers and the way a scan could or could not aid you. Specifically, ask your self:

  • What’s your historical past? Do you could have a private or household historical past of lung illness, coronary heart illness, or particular cancers?
  • Did you inhale? Are you a longtime smoker?
  • In that case, how lengthy? Even if you happen to’ve give up smoking, for what number of years have been you an lively smoker?

 

This can be a completely different kind of scan, referred to as DEXA (twin power X-ray absorptiometry). You might need heard of DEXA scans to verify on bone density to see when you have osteoporosis or osteopenia. It makes use of low-level X-rays to verify in your physique composition, like how a lot physique fats you could have and the place it’s in your physique. 

There are numerous methods to measure your physique fats. Consultants have informed WebMD up to now that DEXA scanning is a “excellent approach” and “one of the vital correct strategies on the market.” And researchers have referred to as it the “gold commonplace” for checking on physique composition – particularly, for bone, fats, and muscle. Nevertheless it’s not coated by insurance coverage, until you’re getting a DEXA scan to display for bone density. The price of a DEXA scan varies, beginning round $75 in some instances.



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