CT Scans for Children: A Risky Venture?

CT Scans for Children: A Risky Venture? 1

The CT (computerized tomography) scan is an important tool in the health care professional’s diagnostic toolkit. With a CT scan, a physician can diagnose internal injuries and check for signs of cancer and other diseases. As the technology for delivering the scans has improved, so has the accuracy of diagnosis and the resulting impact on treatment. But how risky is a CT scan when the patient is a child?

It’s a good question for parents to ask, as out of approximately 68 million CT scans performed each year, around ten percent are performed on children. A recent article in USA Today pinpoints the concern: a National Cancer Institute study published last year in the UK medical journal The Lancet found that, in the decade after they received their first CT scan, children who received head CT scans saw a small increase in their risk of developing either leukemia or brain tumors.

How small an increase in risk? According to the study, for every 10,000 children studied who had received head CT scans, one case of leukemia and one case of brain tumors occurred, beyond what would have been expected if no CT scans had been performed, in the decade following the first CT scan received.

Does this mean children should avoid CT scans? Not necessarily. In another recent study, published in Radiology, the journal of the Radiological Society of North America, found that the conditions for which children required CT scans to help in diagnosis were more of a risk than the radiation from the CT scans themselves. Other studies, however, have found that up to a third of CT scans ordered are unnecessary.

The takeaway for parents and physicians alike? CT scans for children should be done only when necessary, and if a scan is required, a single scan should be performed rather than multiple scans, only the affected area should be scanned, and an appropriately child-sized dose of radiation should be used. An example of a campaign that seeks to reduce the radiation exposure received by children through CT scans is the Image Gently campaign.

It’s also a good idea to keep in mind a child’s cumulative radiation exposure. And, as other health care professionals interviewed by USA Today point out, it’s also important to remember the primary purpose of the scan: to help obtain the sometimes crucial information to perform an accurate diagnosis.

If you or a loved one have suffered from a personal injury as a result of someone else’s negligence, a competent attorney will help you get the compensation to which you are entitled. Robert Greening is the principal attorney at Greening Law, P.C. He has dedicated his 24 years of practice to the litigation of wrongful death and serious injury cases. If you have a question about a recall or injury, contact Greening Law, P.C. at 972-934-8900.