Take a drive round sure neighborhoods in Los Angeles and it’s possible you’ll spot as many indicators promoting physique scans as burger joints. Or possibly you have seen the advertisements on TV or the web: “Shield 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 verify in your physique composition?

Scans for Well being Checks

Whereas applied sciences differ, most of those high-tech checkups use computed tomography (CT) scans to look at your complete physique or particular elements, such because the coronary heart and lungs, to attempt to catch harmful ailments in earlier, extra curable levels.

Throughout the 15- or 20-minute scan, you lie inside a doughnut-shaped machine as an imaging gadget rotates round you, transmitting radiation. The approach combines a number of X-ray photos and, with the help of a pc, produces cross-sectional views of your physique. By analyzing the views, a health care provider can search for early indicators of abnormalities.

The scans aren’t low-cost – whole-body scans run wherever from $500 to $1,000 per scan and normally aren’t reimbursed by insurance coverage. And the query of how useful these scans actually are is a matter of debate amongst medical consultants.

Advocates promote scans as a sensible a part of a routine bodily examination. However in case you’re wholesome, with no worrisome signs, a scan is normally not warranted, says Arl Van Moore, MD, a radiologist and scientific assistant professor of radiology at Duke College Medical Middle in Durham, NC, who can also be a spokesman for the American Faculty of Radiology (ACR).

Based on 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 doable 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 might 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 carried out too typically, the radiation publicity may very well improve the variety of most cancers circumstances over the long run, in keeping with a 2004 report within the journal Radiology.

The American Faculty of Preventive Medication says that whole-body scans “aren’t superb 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 might or might not show you how to. Specifically, ask your self:

  • What’s your historical past? Do you might have 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 in case you’ve give up smoking, for what number of years have been you an energetic smoker?


What if You’re Getting a Scan to Verify Your Physique Fats?

It is a totally different sort of scan, known as DEXA (twin power X-ray absorptiometry). You may need heard of DEXA scans to verify on bone density to see when you have osteoporosis or osteopenia. It makes use of low-level X-rays to verify in your physique composition, like how a lot physique fats you might have and the place it’s in your physique. 

There are numerous methods to measure your physique fats. Specialists have advised WebMD up to now that DEXA scanning is a “superb approach” and “some of the correct strategies on the market.” And researchers have known as it the “gold normal” for checking on physique composition – particularly, for bone, fats, and muscle. Nevertheless it’s not lined by insurance coverage, until you’re getting a DEXA scan to display for bone density. The price of a DEXA scan varies, beginning round $75 in some circumstances.

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