My dentist has ordered a Cone Beam CT scan, is it worth the radiation risk?

By | October 30, 2009

My dentist has ordered a Cone Bean CT scan is it worth the radiation riskMy dentist referred me to a lab to get “tomos”. In talking to the lab, they would use Cat scans. My€ € dentist requires this before he will attempt to straighten my teeth. He says this is the wave of the future. Unfortunately, I’ve also read recently,€ and my doctor has€ acknolweged, that they are learning now that there are non-trivial long term risks for lymphomas from diagnostic x-rays. For this reason, babies are no longer given x-rays unless it is absolutely necessary.

What would my dose for the iCAT scan be? The first thing you will hear if you ask is that€ the radiation dose€ is “minimal” or “negligable” or “trivial”. Don’t accept these answers. You want is actual numbers.

What the lab told me after doing some research is that the effective dose of the 20 second iCat scan is 68 uSV. The exposure is in pulses, 3.5 seconds for the 20 second scan. For comparison, an iCat 10 second scan gives you a 34 uSV dose, daily background radiation gives you an 8 uSV dose, a digital pano x-ray gives you a dose of 4.7 to 14.9 uSV.

To minimize radiation, the lab said they can build the pano and latteral shots from the one 20 second iCat scan. What is the actual cancer risk from getting an extra weeks worth of radiation in 3.5 seconds of pulses?€  Currently researching…

Ultimately, I decided not to get this done. An experienced orthodontist straightened by teeth in a 2.5 year process that frankly sucked, and my teeth eventually went back to being crooked because I developed an allergy to the retainers I was supposed to wear every night, but at least I didn’t need a cat scan!

One thought on “My dentist has ordered a Cone Beam CT scan, is it worth the radiation risk?

  1. John Hardman

    a new practice in Melbourne now overcomes this issue by using new high tech equipment where the patient can sit and is not subject to the amount of xray like an icat scan. This will become a boom to dentists and other medical facility requirements when they learn about this. The new dental and medical imaging service is fully accredited and open for business. It is called DMDI and you can check out its web site at


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