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Myasthenia Gravis

Long term x-ray effect

07/06/2009

Question:

A strange incident happened to me 3 years ago. While I was in ICU after undergoing thymectomy, my bed was near that of a boy who got involved in an accident. He was undergoing several x-rays to detect any bone fractures. Will the x-ray affect me in the long run? If so, in what way will it affect my health?

Answer:

An interesting question, and not one that applies just to patients with myasthenia. I read once that one chest xray is the same amount of radiation that we receive from our environment in 10 days (0.1 millisieverts). Yes, we get radiation exposure just by standing outside, sleeping in our beds, and flying in airplanes. We are always exposed to radiation. While there is no major concern for the immediate effect of radiation on your health or on your myasthenia, the biggest concern for radiation exposure is future risk of cancer. Cancer may not develop until 20 to 30 years after heavy radiation exposure. The key word being heavy. Your exposure sounds fairly small thankfully. There is no consensus for the risk of long term radiation exposure.

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Response by:

Robert W Neel, IV, MD Robert W Neel, IV, MD
Assistant Professor of Neurology
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati