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Radiographs in pregnancy, danger to the fetus?

Radiographs in pregnancy, danger to the fetus?


Radiographs represent an essential danger to the pregnant woman. There are also situations or conditions in which X-ray investigations can be successfully used even during pregnancy, depending on the dosage and gestational age of the woman.

However, the risks and dangers are greater, and caution is absolutely necessary given that the normal development of the fetus can be compromised even from the second week of pregnancy, if the mother is exposed to these rays.

What are X-rays?

X-rays are a type of electromagnetic radiation with very high energy. When they enter a particular substance, chemical and physical processes take place that can lead to the destruction of certain cells, as well as the modification of the DNA in the case of a living matter.

They are often used in medicine when it is recommended:

  • radiography;

  • mammography;

  • investigations using the CT;

  • fluoroscopy.

What risks arise during pregnancy?

Usually, the radiographs are avoided during pregnancy. The effect can be extremely powerful and dangerous even on an adult organism, considering that it can have devastating effects on the fetus. There are situations when the x-rays in pregnancy are done under conditions of maximum safety, the dosage and the gestational age being the ones that make the difference.

However, if the woman who is exposed to this analysis does not know that she is pregnant and receives an inadequate dose of X-rays, the development of the fetus can be severely affected, the inevitable teratogenic effects, even the risk of death.

The maximum vulnerability of the fetus to the effects of radiation occurs in the first trimester of pregnancy and the beginning of the second, that is between weeks 2-15.

Dramatic effects of radiographs on the fetus

  • miscarriage;

  • intrauterine growth retardation;

  • congenital malformation;

  • functional brain abnormalities;

  • mental retardation;

  • risk of childhood leukemia (as well as other late-onset cancers).

Are there situations in which radiographs in pregnancy are not dangerous?

Specialists say that X-rays can be successfully performed even in pregnancy, but under extremely strict and carefully monitored conditions. Although it is recommended to avoid them throughout the gestation period, there are cases where they are absolutely necessary.

There are certain conditions in which the negative side effects occur, depending very much on the stage of the pregnancy in which the exposure is made and the dose of radiation to which the pregnant woman is exposed.

The minimum dose at which there were no side effects on the fetus is 50mGy (miliGray - the energy absorbed per unit mass is made in Gray). Side effects occur at an exposure of over 100 mGy, and the maximum danger is reached if it occurs in weeks 8-25 of pregnancy.

If you are wondering when you are in danger, find out that doses greater than 100 mGy are not done in the usual X-ray investigations. Given that side effects can still occur from exposure in the second week of gestation, it is important to find out as soon as possible of the existence of the pregnancy, to avoid undesirable effects that can only occur after a simple radiograph to the dentist.

The most dangerous radiographs for the fetus

Depending on the part of the body on which the x-ray is made, it may be more or less dangerous to the fetus.

The least dangerous are:

  • buccal area;

  • cranial area;

  • area of ​​the limbs.

The most dangerous portions

  • thoracic area;

  • pelvic area;

  • abdominal area;

  • area of ​​the spine / lumbar spine.