Can You Have An MRI While Pregnant?

If you’re currently pregnant, you may find the lengthy list of things you can (and can’t) do during this time to be overwhelming and often even contradictory. Whether debating the consumption of un-microwaved lunch meat, the risks posed by sushi, or even the placement of your vehicle’s seat belt while driving, the changes in your life and routine during pregnancy can be exhausting. Those who find themselves in need of medical imaging — from X-rays to MRIs — during pregnancy may wonder if these processes are safe or whether it’s better to simply put them off until after the baby is born. Read on to learn more about which scans are safe during pregnancy and which you may want to avoid.

What types of medical imaging are safe during pregnancy?

Although X-ray technicians will always inquire whether you’re pregnant (or possibly pregnant) before placing the leaded gown over your body, being pregnant doesn’t mean X-rays are automatically (or completely) off limits. Because medical X-rays target radiation at the specific part of the body being examined, you should be able to have an X-ray of your hand, foot, or other extremity without ever putting your belly in harm’s way; and even if you do inadvertently come into contact with this radiation, it’s usually at a low enough dose that you’d need to have hundreds (or thousands) of subsequent X-rays before ever seeing any effect on your child.

Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, can provide a much more comprehensive view of bones, tendons, and other internal structures, and they are often used to assess interior damage to a joint when mere X-rays aren’t enough. Although the MRI machine is much larger and more intimidating looking than an X-ray machine, MRIs are considered relatively safe for pregnant women and should only be avoided by those who have pacemakers or other implants that could be jarred loose by the heavy-duty magnets used. 

What imaging procedures should you avoid? 

With proper precautions, pregnant women shouldn’t find themselves foreclosed from any of the more common types of medical imaging. But it’s important to ensure that any imaging you’re having done is medically necessary and shouldn’t be postponed. For example, a knee problem that has been bothering you for decades and hasn’t significantly increased in severity during your pregnancy can probably be placed on the back burner until you’ve given birth, but a suspected broken foot or ankle will require immediate imaging to set the bone.

For more information, contact a clinic like Kenai Peninsula Imaging Center, LLC.