4

votes

Do CAT/MRI scans zap your intestinal bacteria?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created September 29, 2012 at 8:59 PM

Been experiencing weird pressure in my general appendix area, which I'm hoping is not appendicitis looming overhead. My urine analysis and physical exam came out normal, but I'm still feeling some pressure where my appendix is. Also got blood drawn, which might reveal some more info, but as of right now I've been experiencing a knot on the right side of my abdomen.

On the off chance I do have an inflamed appendix for whatever reason (my diet has been impeccable lately, not sure why this would occur all of a sudden) I'll have to get scanned and I would have for the hundreds of dollars i spent on probiotics to go down the drain.

Not like you need your appendix anyway, but obviously I'd like to avoid any unnecessary medical procedures and bills.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on September 07, 2013
at 01:28 AM

Yeah, but you think if it was effective at wiping out bacteria culture, it would be used for like C.Difficile or antibiotic resistant bacteria as a popular next-step method.

Ff5307d657eb7bbcc526dc7cf1ddd7fd

(460)

on October 20, 2012
at 08:03 PM

Yeah, don't write off the appendix as "useless" just yet! I brought this up on paleohacks not too long ago. (http://paleohacks.com/questions/143229/does-the-appendix-play-an-important-role-in-human-health#axzz29qlUVXX5) Although, I certainly wouldn't avoid a necessary appendectomy on the back of this somewhat speculative/not yet definitive research.

09bdfdb3be1bb05b8aea79d55afd9e30

(174)

on October 17, 2012
at 08:58 AM

I have no idea what effects a CT scan might have on bacteria. However, my partner and I were recently advised by a radiographer friend that CT scans are a lot more detrimental to health than generally thought and that he will always recommend people get an MRI if possible. I'm not sure what your body composition is like, but he said that applies especially if people are not an 'average' size as the radiation dose will be increased.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on October 14, 2012
at 11:37 PM

When I had a sinus infection as an exchange student in Germany I got to have my sinuses therapeutically x-rayed. It was weird, but the infection cleared out really fast after that.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on October 14, 2012
at 11:32 PM

Also, what planes do you fly on ?!?!?!?!

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on October 14, 2012
at 03:56 PM

Appendix are very important for harbouring bacterial populations to allow for a more rapid re-populating of the gut after an infection- they also have killed lots of people in the past, so if infection is afoot, there aren't a lot of good alternatives...

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on October 14, 2012
at 03:03 PM

Magnetic fields (MRIs) shouldn't have an effect on gut microbes. Perhaps X-rays (CAT scans) might, but likely minimal damage at worst. You really have to kill off nearly everything for there to be serious problems.

0a9ad4e577fe24a6b8aafa1dd7a50c79

(5150)

on October 14, 2012
at 09:02 AM

Not necessarily. It's easier and more convenient to pop a pill than getting behind a lead screen and getting zapped by a machine.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on October 14, 2012
at 01:22 AM

I believe iliocecal valve pain is pretty close to where the appendix is, but not exactly in the same spot. You can go see a functional medicine practitioner or holistic nutritionist who can poke your belly in just the right spot to be able tell the difference. For some reason I'm doubting a cat scan could or would decimate your gut flora, if it could, we'd be doing those instead of antibiotics a bunch of things like SIBO and food poisening.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on September 30, 2012
at 08:29 AM

Tonsils are EXTREMELY important. My mom had them out and she still suffers from it. Those docs remind me of mechanics who work on planes - "Looks like you don't need this wire - let's cut it off!"

3806d8d2d78746ce55d8201e67ef3128

(244)

on September 30, 2012
at 08:19 AM

Tonsils too! a lot of these organs that the medical community tells us are useless actually play a role in our health.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on September 30, 2012
at 03:22 AM

Just as a note, pressure in the right side of the abdomen can be caused by irritation of intestine/intestinal valve.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on September 29, 2012
at 10:42 PM

Spleen does something to your blood, I think. I could be wrong.

0a9ad4e577fe24a6b8aafa1dd7a50c79

(5150)

on September 29, 2012
at 09:22 PM

I thought that was your spleen lol

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5 Answers

best answer

6
7841848bd0c27c64353c583fb7971242

(7275)

on October 14, 2012
at 02:57 PM

I'm an fMRI researcher, and I cannot imagine any way in which the strong magnet of the MRI could affect your gut bacteria. I'm less certain about the CAT scan because it's not my area of expertise. I remember when I had one done about 15 years ago, the contrast agent used was molybdenum. And high doses of molybdenum shouldn't deplete bacterial populations in the gut. I don't know what contrast agents are used nowadays, and I don't know what the x-rays would do. If it were me in your position, I would get the scans done. As a person with celiac disease who went 2 years of diarrhea before going gluten free and being diagnosed, I'm very protective of keeping my gut healthy. I turned down a colonoscopy because I think the process of cleaning you out for the procedure is too damaging to the gut flora, but I would get an fMRI or CAT scan without blinking an eye.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on October 14, 2012
at 03:03 PM

Magnetic fields (MRIs) shouldn't have an effect on gut microbes. Perhaps X-rays (CAT scans) might, but likely minimal damage at worst. You really have to kill off nearly everything for there to be serious problems.

2
C1484e8cfca0cc00f40da25d36f689b8

(374)

on October 20, 2012
at 06:23 PM

  • I highly doubt the CT scan would cause any disruptions to your gut microbiome. The unit of Gray (gy) is used to evaluate the strength of the radiation applied. The magnitude of the radiation dose is significantly different between those used to perform imaging and those to sterilize food. According to a cited wikipedia reference, radiation on the order of 0.01 Gy, and rarely exceeding 0.1 Gy is common for CT scans. According to a Mettler Toledo article (a large instrument manufacturer), food irradiation typically is around 1000-3000 Gy. This means that it is anywhere for 10K to 100K less intense radiation for the CT scan than the food irradiation.
  • MRI is also not likely to disrupt your guy bacteria. I'm not seeing a way that it would seriously affect the bacteria as it is primarily aligning electrons, not exciting or inducing any significant energy changes.
  • Even if a few of the microbes do die, it is more about population and diversity than overall numbers. Assuming there isn't some bacteria that happens to be both critical to health and highly susceptible to radiation, a few deaths is nothing out of the ordinary and they will be quickly replaced. Any information obtained for the scanning will likely be much more useful than tiny chance of death of a few microbes.

2
3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on October 14, 2012
at 07:55 PM

Typically CT scans are seen as a non-invasive procedure, but I have never seen anything specifically speaking about whether the radiation actually is harmful to intestinal flora.

However, X-Rays definitely can attack and kill bacteria. Irradiation of food using electromagnetic radiation less than 15 nanometers, known as radiolysis, has been known about and used for a very long time -- here's a paper from 1930 -- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2131872/pdf/435.pdf.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on October 14, 2012
at 11:37 PM

When I had a sinus infection as an exchange student in Germany I got to have my sinuses therapeutically x-rayed. It was weird, but the infection cleared out really fast after that.

2
F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on September 29, 2012
at 09:18 PM

(NOT AN ANSWER, JUST A COMMENT)

I have read somewhere that you need your appendix. It has a very important role in immune system. I am not sure what exactly it does, but I recall (I could be wrong though) that's where all you good bacteria guys hide when something happens to your gut. Once it is "safe", the intestines get repopulated by bacteria starting from the appendix.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on September 30, 2012
at 08:29 AM

Tonsils are EXTREMELY important. My mom had them out and she still suffers from it. Those docs remind me of mechanics who work on planes - "Looks like you don't need this wire - let's cut it off!"

3806d8d2d78746ce55d8201e67ef3128

(244)

on September 30, 2012
at 08:19 AM

Tonsils too! a lot of these organs that the medical community tells us are useless actually play a role in our health.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on September 29, 2012
at 10:42 PM

Spleen does something to your blood, I think. I could be wrong.

0a9ad4e577fe24a6b8aafa1dd7a50c79

(5150)

on September 29, 2012
at 09:22 PM

I thought that was your spleen lol

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on October 14, 2012
at 03:56 PM

Appendix are very important for harbouring bacterial populations to allow for a more rapid re-populating of the gut after an infection- they also have killed lots of people in the past, so if infection is afoot, there aren't a lot of good alternatives...

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on October 14, 2012
at 11:32 PM

Also, what planes do you fly on ?!?!?!?!

Ff5307d657eb7bbcc526dc7cf1ddd7fd

(460)

on October 20, 2012
at 08:03 PM

Yeah, don't write off the appendix as "useless" just yet! I brought this up on paleohacks not too long ago. (http://paleohacks.com/questions/143229/does-the-appendix-play-an-important-role-in-human-health#axzz29qlUVXX5) Although, I certainly wouldn't avoid a necessary appendectomy on the back of this somewhat speculative/not yet definitive research.

1
62442eec80b7d248ccfa08f98f736748

on October 16, 2012
at 01:45 AM

if u have pain with right hip flexion while lying on your back and/or start to see signs of infection (fever, malaise, chills), just go see the doc. tell him/her your concern about the imaging and ask for an ultrasound. they are quick, portable, and more and more clinicians are using them to make bedside diagnoses. the etiology of appendicitis is just from obstruction of the appendix lumen. it just happens...the combination of food, timing, position of the body while digesting, relative GI motility, etc. so looking for answers in your diet is probably not going to be very helpful

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