A common nuclear medicine imaging study used by the emergency department physician is the ventilation/perfusion scan. Total fetal exposure to xenon 133 and technetium 99m is about 0.5 rad, and they can be used safely in pregnancy. Fetal exposure from other studies using technetium 99 range from 0.03 to 0.06 rad/mCi and are safe in pregnancy. Because the excretion of these radionuclide particles is often via the maternal bladder, which is close to the fetus, hydration and frequent voiding need to be encouraged.
The two nonionizing imaging studies used frequently are ultrasound and MRI. Ultrasound has been studied extensively over the past 25 years and has no known teratogenic effect. There is much less experience with MRI, but thus far there are no known harmful effects.
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