doctor reading ct scanBy Abigail Cuffey
There's no doubt medical screenings (such as MRIs and CT scans) save lives, but in some cases, they're just not necessary. "Some doctors may prescribe a test 'just to be safe,' and many patients don't think to question it, but the truth is, you should always discuss with your physician why you need a test before you go for it," says Christine Cassel, MD, president of the American Board of Internal Medicine. Photo by Getty
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Simple questions to get the conversation going:
√ "How will the results of this test improve my treatment?"
√ "What are the risks of the test?"
√ "What are the risks if I don't have it?"
Three tests you should question:
1. MRI for low back pain that has lasted for six weeks or less or isn't related to an existing disease or spine issue
Why you may not need it Back pain is the fifth most common reason for all doc visits, "but most cases aren't related to a serious problem and MRIs don't usually show anything that helps with a diagnosis," says Glen Stream, MD, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians.
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2. CT scan for headaches
Why you may not need it Unless you have a serious warning sign (like a sudden, severe headache), odds are the scan won't find anything that leads to treatment, says Dr. Cassel. A CT scan exposes you to high levels of radiation, so if you can, you want to avoid one.
3. DEXA (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry), an X-ray that looks at your bone density, if you're under 65 years old
Why you may not need it If you're under 65 and have no risk factors (like a family history of osteoporosis or an unexplained fall, minor injury or fracture), there's no reason to know your bone density, says Dr. Stream.
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For the full list of tests that should always raise a red flag, go to ChoosingWisely.org.
Original article appeared on WomansDay.com.
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