Radiation Oncologist Questions Mammogram

Is it an issue if someone undergoes a mammogram in pregnancy?

My wife recently underwent a mammogram in a breast cancer awareness checkup. She did not know then that she was pregnant. Could this create a problem for our baby.

7 Answers

Congratulations on your expected new addition to the family. Mammograms emit very low radiation, which is directed at the breast and not in the area of the fetus-in the uterus. Thus it is generally safe to undergo mammogram, which is usually only required once yearly.


It is advisable to be exposed to any radiation in early pregnancy. She should consult with the radiologist in the mammography center in regard to amount radiation from mammography and possible impact for the baby.
It can. Check with radiologist.
Short answer: Not likely.
Long answer: While there is no "safe" dose of radiation to a developing fetus, dose to a developing fetus is likely very, very low if done with modern mammography equipment. Most mammogram units have a plate that is installed perpendicular to the machine just below the imaging plate. This ensures that a woman’s stomach does not get in the way of the image (if she is overweight). This plate is also shielded to avoid excess radiation dose to a woman’s stomach/bowels. In your wife’s case, this likely provided shielding for the developing fetus in her uterus. Although the risk to the fetus was diminishingly low, I would still talk with her OB-GYN about your concerns.
No problem. Todays mammograms have a very low amount of radiation to the body. If there was any question about a breast lump, then ultrasound could be used.
Yes, Please avoid exposure to X-rays of any kind during pregnancy.
The short answer is highly unlikely. While there is indeed some radiation in a mammogram, the dose is quite low at 4mSv and only directed at the breast. To put that in perspective, smoking 1 pack of cigarettes per day for a year would expose your body to ~25mSv. Mammogram devices usually have a stomach shield built into the device, so that plus the distance from the mammogram head would result in a diminishingly low dose to the developing fetus. While there is no "safe" dose of radiation to a fetus, it is unlikely that there was any damage. To be on the safer side, I would ask her OB-GYN what the likely dose was and what to expect, he or she could give a better estimate than myself without knowing the individual mammogram unit, your wife's height, weight, and the gestational age of the fetus.