Concerns have been raised about the risks associated with patients’ exposure to radiation. Because ionizing radiation can cause damage to DNA, exposure can increase a person’s lifetime risk of developing cancer. Although the risk from a single exam may not itself be large, millions of exams are performed each year, making radiation exposure from medical imaging an important public health issue.

66% of spine patients reported that a physician never discussed radiation exposure associated with their X-rays. 14% of patients would consider forgoing their X-ray procedure recommended by their surgeon out of concern for radiation exposure. Increased counseling and educational materials regarding radiation exposure to the patient could reduce the frequency of unnecessary imaging tests and reduce risk of serious long-term consequences of excessive radiation exposure that could occur as a result.

There is a 5X increased risk of cancer, most frequently endometrial and breast cancer, in patients surgically treated for scoliosis 25 years post-operatively with a mean radiation exposure of 0.8-1.4 mSv per exam.

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