How to protect seniors -- older parents, relatives and loved ones -- who live alone. Tips on what to do in case of an emergency. Safety ideas.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Full Body CT Scans: Info to Know Before You Go (Part 1)

Based on the article “Guidelines for Full Body CT Scans?” on the BioEthics Web Log, at

Edited (with Introduction) by Dr. Don Rose


You may have seen the ads in newspapers, offering to scan your body (for a fee) in order to learn what things may be wrong with you, before these things cause major problems. In theory, it sounds great, but this article raises some questions and concerns one should think about before deciding on a specific type of scan: the full body CT (Computed Tomography) scan. –D.R.


With the convenience and popularity of full body CT scans increasing as a simple solution to detect the ever growing number of maladies cropping up in aging bodies, Menlo Park's Almanac reports that some doctors are warning of the risks inherent to the technology. Advertisements for body scans espouse the procedure’s ability to identify heart disease, lung disease and cancer and other ailments, but do not mention the plausible health side effects of the scan itself. In addition, the FDA provides no regulatory standards for the scanning industry.

When considering the potential dangers of false positives (indicating that you have a problem when in fact you don’t) and radiation exposure, one should think hard and evaluate all options before jumping right into a full body scan. For health care professionals, it may not always be the wisest move to steer people showing no symptoms or signs of problems toward a treatment that could damage an otherwise healthy body. (Remember the famous phrase that medical practitioners have long been taught: “First, do no harm.”)

Should there be professional standards or guidelines stating when it is or is not appropriate for someone to receive a body scan? Or should this aspect of medicine remain “Caveat Emptor” (buyer beware) – with the hope that "informed consent" will wash away any problems?

The answers are not easy, but Part 2 of this article provides additional information regarding full body scans that sheds more light on these issues.


This work (Full Body CT Scans… Part 1) and the work it is based on are licensed under a
Creative Commons License.

Dr. Don Rose writes books, papers and articles on many topics, including computers, the Internet, artificial intelligence, science and technology, and issues related to seniors.


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