Recent Blog Articles

Staying Healthy

Medical radiation: Too much of a good thing?

December 01, 2011

It all started in 1895, when Wilhelm Roentgen discovered x-rays. Six years later, he was honored with the first Nobel Prize in Physics; by then, doctors were already using primitive x-rays to diagnose illnesses. The collaboration between physicians and physicists has continued ever since, resulting in amazing advances far beyond Roentgen's wildest dreams.

Modern imaging techniques have saved countless lives. But like every medication and operation, these benefits come at a cost, both in dollars and sometimes in health. In the case of imaging, potential problems include both misdiagnosis and over-diagnosis, which often lead to excessive or unnecessary treatment. And additional side effects may result from the very radiation used to produce many types of diagnostic images.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.

Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.

  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »

I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.

Sign Me Up

Already a member? Login ».

Disclaimer:

As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.