Chronic Illness Patients and Radiation

Before I begin this post, I want to remind everyone that I am not a doctor or have any medical training whatsoever. I am simply a patient who shares her experiences living with a number of chronic illnesses (Inflammatory Bowel Disease being the main one that I discuss) with whoever will listen! :)

Anyway. Having said that. I wanted to talk about my most recent experience at an imaging center yesterday. I was scheduled for a CT Scan with and without contrast.

When they took me in, the nurse explained to me that the radiologist did not feel like giving me contrast/extra radiation was the best thing for me. She continued to explain that since I had been there numerous times over the past couple of months plus my age, that they did not feel it was smart to do.

It was nice to know that they were an establishment that was looking out for me when I honestly never would have given it a second thought. I know these excessive tests we all go through are not good for our bodies and I know it can do damage but I honestly don’t know the details of it all. And quite frankly, I do not want to. I am not saying I want to live in a world of ignorance but sometimes, it is just information overload.

After asking to speak to the radiologist himself since the nurse did say they were all set up to give me an IV and contrast if I wished to just follow my doctor’s instructions, he explained even more how much my age was a factor. When I told him briefly that I had other tests done over the years as well (I only began going to this imaging place about six months ago,) he just kept saying how that wasn’t good. Which is, well, obvious. He reiterated my age and how I should avoid these types of tests; Kind of like it had been a choice. Only I do know he did not mean it that way.

I wanted to bring this up because I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it and I don’t see it being talked about it a lot among patients. Or, at least, I haven’t come across too many blog posts about this subject. I also think given most of us do not have a choice about whether or not we go for these tyoes of tests (and therefore, are exposed to some type of radiation) that we don’t necessarily need to know everything that could possible happen. It just isn’t helpful in my opinion.

A fellow IBDer and advocate, Christina Matthies, also posted this question a while ago on the support page we re-opened that got me thinking as well.


Have any of you had experiences like the one I shared? Does this issue weigh heavily on you when making decisions about your medical treatment? Have you asked your physician questions about this? Would you rather know all of the details or stay somewhat in the dark?


  • Sherri Troy

    Interesting question that you have raised. One would think that if a doctor is sending you for a test it is because it is critical to your care. Yet, I have often experienced when a patient is sent for tests simply because the Dr isn’t sure of a diagnosis although the outcome of the test is generally insignificant and is primarily used for diagnostic purposes. That being said….think patients have to question things all the time….kind of sad….:(