Take a drive round sure neighborhoods in Los Angeles and you might spot as many indicators promoting physique scans as burger joints. Or perhaps 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 do 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 elements, such because the coronary heart and lungs, to attempt to catch harmful illnesses in earlier, extra curable phases.
Throughout the 15- or 20-minute scan, you lie inside a doughnut-shaped machine as an imaging system 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 anyplace 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 wise a part of a routine bodily examination. However should 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 Middle in Durham, NC, who can also be a spokesman for the American School of Radiology (ACR).
In line with 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 danger of lung cancers, reminiscent of present people who smoke or these with a protracted historical past of smoking,” he says.
For wholesome individuals, the scans could 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 finished too typically, the radiation publicity may very well improve the variety of most cancers instances over the long run, in response to a 2004 report within the journal Radiology.
The American School of Preventive Medication 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 danger of most cancers.
Who Wants a Excessive-Tech Checkup?
Earlier than scheduling a physique scan, discuss to your physician about your general well being dangers and the way a scan could or could not enable you to. Particularly, ask your self:
- What’s your historical past? Do you’ve got a private or household historical past of lung illness, coronary heart illness, or particular cancers?
- Did you inhale? Are you a longtime smoker?
- If that’s the case, how lengthy? Even should you’ve give up smoking, for what number of years had been you an energetic smoker?
What if You’re Getting a Scan to Examine Your Physique Fats?
It is a completely different sort of scan, referred to as DEXA (twin vitality X-ray absorptiometry). You might need heard of DEXA scans to test on bone density to see you probably 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’ve got and the place it’s in your physique.
There are numerous methods to measure your physique fats. Consultants have instructed WebMD up to now that DEXA scanning is a “excellent approach” and “one of the vital correct strategies on the market.” And researchers have referred to as it the “gold normal” 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.