Common Radiation Doses

Okay, we’re ready now to see some regularly encountered radiation doses. The numbers given below are the radiation dose we expect most people would receive from that source.

Effective Dose Radiation Source
Less than (<) or equal to (=) 0.01 rem

annual dose living at nuclear power plant perimeter

bitewing, panoramic, or full-mouth dental x rays

skull x ray

chest x ray

<=0.1 rem

single spine x ray

abdominal x ray

pelvic x ray

hip x ray


<=0.5 rem

kidney series of x rays

most barium-related x rays

head CT +

any spine x-ray series

annual natural background radiation dose

most nuclear medicine brain, liver, kidney, bone, or lung scans

<=1.0 rem

barium enema (x rays of the large intestine)

chest, abdomen, or pelvic CT +

<=5.0 rem

cardiac catheterization (heart x rays)

coronary angiogram (heart x rays)

other heart x-ray studies

most nuclear medicine heart scans

+CT = computerized tomography; a specialized x-ray exam.