Family physician, author, blogger, speaker, physician leader.

Body Scans

You’ve heard or seen the pitch.  You’re encouraged to get a full body scan or an ultrasound of different parts of your body to make sure that you are healthy.  The pain free procedure is touted as your way of taking charge of your health and finding problems before they start.  It seems simple enough.  So what’s the problem?

The Problem With Full Body Scans

Part of the problem is that our bodies are quite complex and there can be areas of abnormalities seen with these scanners.  The vast majority of the time these abnormalities are benign and nothing to worry about. They won’t cause a person any harm if left alone and had the individual not done a full body scan, he would have lived a normal life and died none the bit wiser.

Unfortunately, once an abnormality is found and identified many people are disturbed and insist on having something done about it.  Other times, companies that do whole body scans or ultrasounds recommend that you see your doctor just to make sure the area in question isn’t anything to worry about.

As a consequence doctors are obligated to find out exactly what it is which involves more medical procedures, blood work, and biopsies, just to make sure the problematic area is ok.  Before undergoing all of this additional worry and testing, the majority of people feel absolutely fine.

Radiation Exposure

In addition whole body scans, which use CT scanners, are not benign tests.  A full body scan subjects patients to radiation typical of at least a couple of hundred chest x-rays.  Since a repeat body scan is often recommended in the future, one subjects the body to additional radiation for questionable benefit.

Is It Worth The Money?

Although ultrasound uses sound waves to scan areas, again for the majority of people, the results are normal.  Was it worth the money?

If you are concerned about your health, check with your doctors on what tests you do need to keep you healthy and stay well.  Save your money.  Check with your doctor and see what tests are right for you. It’s unlikely to be a total body scan.

Find out more about body scans and other vital information in Stay Healthy, Live Longer, Spend Wisely: Making Intelligent Choices in America’s Healthcare System.

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