Rise seen in radiologic exams for pregnant women

A new study has indicated that the number of radiologic exams conducted on pregnant women has more than doubled over the last decade.

Published in the online edition of Radiology, a study conducted by researchers at Brown University, Rhode Island, US, indicated that the total number of imaging studies performed on pregnant women at their institution increased by 10.1 per cent per year between 1997 and 2006.

While computed tomography (CT) exams are not routinely ordered for pregnant women, they may be necessary to identify life-threatening conditions such as bleeding in the brain, blood clots in the lungs or appendicitis, the Radiological Society of North America says.

However, concerns have been raised in the past that exposing the foetus to radiation can damage the baby's health, it adds.

Dr Elizabeth Lazarus, assistant professor of diagnostic imaging at the Warren Alpert School of Medicine at Brown University, says women should know that imaging is "generally safe" during pregnancy and is "often used to detect potentially life-threatening problems".

"However, this study should raise awareness about imaging trends in pregnant patients and help us continue in our efforts to minimise radiation exposure," she adds.

Two studies, conducted respectively by the Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, US, and Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, Canada, have also found evidence to suggest that women who have caesarean sections complicated by severe bleeding could benefit from new radiology treatment.ADNFCR-2094-ID-19080732-ADNFCR