As CT Scans of Kids Soar, Experts Urge
TUESDAY, April 5 (HealthDay News) -- The substantial increase in
computed tomography (CT) examinations of children in U.S. hospital
emergency departments between 1995 and 2008 highlights the need for
appropriate use and interpretation of these exams, say
They analyzed National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey
data and found that CT exams of children rose from about 330,000 in
1995 to 1.65 million in 2008, a five-fold increase.
Head injury, abdominal pain and headache were the most common
reasons for CT exams of children. The largest increase was in
abdominal CT imaging, which was barely used in 1995 but accounted
for 15 to 21 percent of CT exams of children in the last four years
of the study.
The findings appear online and in the June print issue of the
While they can help speed diagnosis, CT scans deliver higher
radiation doses than most other types of medical imaging. This has
raised concerns about the use of CT on children because their
organs are more sensitive to radiation than adults' organs, and
they have a longer remaining life expectancy in which they could
develop cancer, the researchers noted.
In addition, the increasing rates of CT use noted in this study
make it more likely that children will receive a higher cumulative
lifetime dose of radiation than people who are currently
The researchers noted that most radiologists who oversee and
interpret CT examinations of children are not trained in pediatric
"The performance of CT in children requires special oversight, especially in regards to the selection of size-based CT scan parameters and sedation techniques. It is important to consistently tailor CT technique to the body size of the pediatric patient," study lead author Dr. David B. Larson, director of quality improvement in the radiology department at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, said in a journal news release.
He added that medical professionals "need to think creatively
about how to partner with each other ... to ensure that all
children are scanned only when it is appropriate and with
The Alliance for Radiation Safety in Pediatric Imaging has more
children and CT scans.
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