Is It Safe to Get an X-ray While Pregnant?

a pregnant woman in a black top and black pants rests her hands on her stomach

When X-rays are done correctly, it is almost always safe to have an X-ray while pregnant. A trickier question to answer (and one you should be asking) is this: is it best for me to have this X-ray while pregnant?


X-ray While Pregnant

As with anytime you get an X-ray, there is some risk when you have exposure to radiation while pregnant. Thankfully, however, X-rays use very little radiation. The benefit of allowing your doctor to have a clear image of your medical condition most likely outweighs any potential risk.

Additionally, most X-rays do not present any harm to your baby. If the X-ray is pointed anywhere other than your abdomen, it should never come in contact with your reproductive organs. Therefore it will not produce any known additional risks to your baby.

Abdominal X-rays

X-rays of your abdomen will probably put your unborn baby in direct contact with the X-ray beam. At present, it is not known for sure if the small amounts of radiation used in medical X-ray are enough to harm a baby, so doctors try to avoid giving pregnant women X-rays of the abdomen.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the risks of X-ray radiation to your baby are very small, and your baby depends on you to be healthy. Therefore, if the X-ray is truly necessary for your health and well-being, the risk to your baby of not having the X-ray could be greater than the risk of having it.

Radiologic technologist positions a patient for an abdominal x-ray

How Do I Know If It’s Best?

At UVA Radiology and Medical Imaging, we are dedicated to giving our patients the best care possible.  This dedication extends to your baby, even while you are pregnant. Obviously, it’s important not to put you or your unborn child at unnecessary risk. So if you are pregnant—or think you might be—it’s always best for you to inform your doctor.

Certain X-rays can be postponed until after pregnancy or replaced with a different kind of medical imaging exam. But talk with your doctor. If they think it’s best for you, then you and your baby are likely best off having the exam.

You can read more about getting an X-ray while pregnant from the American Pregnancy Association.

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