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Newbie, please help! Left middle back pain with gas; teacher and can't sit!

Sarah LambertSSarah Lambert Posts: 1
edited 12/29/2013 - 8:33 AM in Upper Back Pain, Thoracic
Hello. My name is Sarah and two weeks ago I developed a pain in my middle left back just where the ribs finish (the pancreas is just below it). It doesn't go away and gets worse when I sit and a bit better if I stand or lie down. My gastroenterologist wants me to have a CT scan, but I had a CT/PET three months ago and a previous CT a year and a half ago. I'm really worried about extra radiation, particularly if it's not really needed.

I was diagnosed with Lumbar disk degeneration following an MRI about six months ago and I have facet joint arthritis

I think the reason my gastroenterologist wanted a CT was that I did have some blood in my stools. I am on warfarin, and following a general anaesthetic some weeks ago, I did have constipation which may have been the cause of the blood. I haven't had any blood for three days now and the stools are a normal colour.

What do you think? Would an MRI (no radiation) be of any use? They did previously use one to look at my pancreas when I expressed my fear of more CT scans. Do you think the gastroenterologist wanted the CT scan because he was concerned about the blood? Can my sort of back pain be caused by disk degeneration or facet joint arthritis?

I'm desperately worried and would be really grateful for any advice you might have. The CT is scheduled for next Friday and I have to make a decision. Thank you for any help you can give me.


  • LizLiz Posts: 9,757
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    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
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  • mickkrmmickkr Posts: 166
    edited 12/30/2013 - 4:09 AM
    Hi Sarah,
    I think you are right to be concerned and in your situation I would definitely raise the matter again with your doctors/radiologists. There are no real controls (I'm in UK but situation is very similar to US) on how much exposure to radiation there is from ct scans and what is a safe and acceptable level of exposure.

    I had two ct scans within 6 weeks of each other and when I was given an appointment for a third, I expressed concern and it was cancelled without explanation so I guess it was not really necessary after all.

    It seems there is no real consensus among clinicians and scientists about what is a safe level of exposure to radiation and research is based on out of date and dubious statistics from the monitoring of victims of the ww11 atomic bombs dropped on Japan.

    We all have to be guided by our doctors when faced with making decisions about our health and treatment and I for one would feel a lot happier if I was sure the doctors themselves were receiving accurate and relevant information before offering advice.

    Not much help I'm afraid but that's the situation as I see it.

    I'm not young enough to know everything - Oscar Wilde
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