Take a drive round sure neighborhoods in Los Angeles and you could spot as many indicators promoting physique scans as burger joints. Or perhaps you have seen the advertisements on TV or the web: “Shield your well being! Get a physique scan now!”
Are whole-body CT scans actually ready to do this – and what are the dangers? And are DEXA scans a great way to verify in your physique composition?
Scans for Well being Checks
Whereas applied sciences fluctuate, most of those high-tech checkups use computed tomography (CT) scans to look at your total physique or particular components, such because the coronary heart and lungs, to attempt to catch harmful illnesses in earlier, extra curable levels.
In the course of the 15- or 20-minute scan, you lie inside a doughnut-shaped machine as an imaging machine rotates round you, transmitting radiation. The approach combines a number of X-ray photographs and, with assistance from a pc, produces cross-sectional views of your physique. By inspecting 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 often 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 sensible a part of a routine bodily examination. However when you’re wholesome, with no worrisome signs, a scan is often not warranted, says Arl Van Moore, MD, a radiologist and medical assistant professor of radiology at Duke College Medical Heart in Durham, NC, who can be a spokesman for the American School of Radiology (ACR).
In response to the ACR’s official place, there’s not sufficient proof to advocate 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 individuals at excessive threat of lung cancers, reminiscent of present people who smoke or these with an extended historical past of smoking,” he says.
For wholesome individuals, the scans might trigger undue fear – as an 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 accomplished too typically, the radiation publicity may very well improve the variety of most cancers circumstances over the long run, in response to a 2004 report within the journal Radiology.
The American School of Preventive Drugs says that whole-body scans “aren’t excellent at discovering most cancers in individuals with out signs” and that the radiation you get from these scans can improve your threat of most cancers.
Who Wants a Excessive-Tech Checkup?
Earlier than scheduling a physique scan, speak to your physician about your general well being dangers and the way a scan might or might not provide help to. Specifically, ask your self:
- What’s your historical past? Do you have got 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 when you’ve give up smoking, for what number of years have been you an lively smoker?
What if You’re Getting a Scan to Examine Your Physique Fats?
It is a totally different kind of scan, known as DEXA (twin power X-ray absorptiometry). You may need heard of DEXA scans to verify on bone density to see if in case 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 have got 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 “probably the most correct strategies on the market.” And researchers have known as it the “gold commonplace” for checking on physique composition – particularly, for bone, fats, and muscle. Nevertheless it’s not lined by insurance coverage, except you’re getting a DEXA scan to display screen for bone density. The price of a DEXA scan varies, beginning round $75 in some circumstances.