Take a drive round sure neighborhoods in Los Angeles and chances are you’ll spot as many indicators promoting physique scans as burger joints. Or possibly you have seen the adverts on TV or the web: “Defend 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 test 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 ailments 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 method combines a number of X-ray pictures and, with the help of 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 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 in the event you’re wholesome, with no worrisome signs, a scan is often not warranted, says Arl Van Moore, MD, a radiologist and scientific assistant professor of radiology at Duke College Medical Heart in Durham, NC, who can be a spokesman for the American Faculty of Radiology (ACR).
In response to 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 attainable exception. “There could also be a profit to folks at excessive danger of lung cancers, reminiscent of present people who smoke or these with a protracted historical past of smoking,” he says.
For wholesome folks, 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 instances over the long run, in accordance 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 improve your danger 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 enable you. 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 in the event you’ve give up smoking, for what number of years had been you an energetic smoker?
What if You’re Getting a Scan to Verify Your Physique Fats?
This can be a completely different sort of scan, referred to as DEXA (twin vitality X-ray absorptiometry). You may need heard of DEXA scans to test on bone density to see if in case you have osteoporosis or osteopenia. It makes use of low-level X-rays to test 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 advised WebMD up to now that DEXA scanning is a “excellent method” and “probably the most correct strategies on the market.” And researchers have referred to as it the “gold customary” for checking on physique composition – particularly, for bone, fats, and muscle. Nevertheless it’s not coated by insurance coverage, except you’re getting a DEXA scan to display for bone density. The price of a DEXA scan varies, beginning round $75 in some instances.