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A 35-year-old female asked:

Is there an alternative to a ct scan for a swollen neck lymph node bc i am worried about the radiation exposure? that will give just as much detail?

4 doctor answers5 doctors weighed in
Dr. Sewa Legha
Medical Oncology 50 years experience
Yes: Ct scan for neck nodes is not essential. A good doctor's hands can palpate the neck nodes easily. Additional tests which can provide good information include ultrasound examination or MRI scan of the neck which is often used as an alternative to ct scan. Neithert of the two tests(ultasound and mri) have any radiation risk associated with them.
Dr. Amy Levine
Radiology 23 years experience
Yes: Ultrasound is frequently used in assessing lymph nodes without radiation. Mri is another possibility. Us is often used first as it is far less expensive and takes about 5-10 minutes vs 30-45+ for mri. Mri is also not a great choice if you are claustrophobic, or have a contraindication like a pacemaker.
Dr. Joseph Maklansky
Radiology 24 years experience
Swollen lymph node: A simple non invasive ultrasound can be done to evaluate a lymph node. If a more detailed look is needed a MRI can be done.
Dr. Andrew Turrisi
Radiation Oncology 47 years experience
A neck node: That comes and goes does not need a ct. If the node is durably present, and growing, the idea of endoscopy and look by ent, and the ct + contrast shows other nodes and relations. So, if you do not need a scan, you should not have it. If you need it the worry about radiation is less than the fear of missing other anatomic lesions, cancer, and nodes.

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Last updated Mar 12, 2020

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