March 28, 2012
“I had a CT scan because of a kidney stone on my left side…the stone has left the kidney and it is stuck in the ureter…I also had an x-ray done …..and before the CT and x-ray I had an ultra sound… Dr. gave me a special medication and told me that in about 3 weeks to have another Ct scan done to see if the stone has dissolved. My question is should I be concern about how much radiation I am getting in such a short time?”
Thanks for your question. Yes, you should be concerned about the amount of radiation that you receive with conventional CT scans. In fact the federal government is also very concerned. At present we are undertaking a large multi-institutional prospective study evaluating the efficacy of CT versus US in patients who present with acute renal colic in an emergency room setting. This multi-million dollar study was initiated because of the potential issues of radiation damage. Of course, CT is a very important test and is very useful. One should be careful for over-utilization. The younger a patient – the more potential damage can occur over their lifetime.
A reasonable alternative would be to proceed with a KUB and a renal ultrasound to rule out continued hydronephrosis. Also, if one is trying to dissolve a stone, urinary pH can be a good test to assess if urinary alkalinization is being successful.
In our “Ask KidneyStoners.org” section, we field questions from stone formers or their family members. See previous questions and answers here.