A new study, published earlier this year in The Lancet, presented real patient data on the risks of cancer from CT scans in kids (Lancet. 2012;380:499-505). Though small, the risks were statistically significant and showed a relationship with dose. The study received quite a bit of mainstream news coverage and raised the issue, once again, of how best to weigh the benefits of CT scans against their risks, especially in pediatric patients.
Explore this issue:September 2012
Concerns about the increasing use of medical imaging and the concomitant risks of radiation exposure have been around for some time. In 2008, the World Health Organization launched an initiative to decrease unnecessary exposure. In 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration began its own initiative to promote safe use of CT scans (and other medical imaging tests), including efforts to improve clinical decision-making and increase patient awareness.
One certainty is that overall use of CT scans is on the increase. A 2009 study found a three-fold increase in the number of CT scans run over a 15-year period, culminating in 72 million CT scans in 2007 (Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(22):2071-2077). About 7 percent of those scans were run in children. Not only are children more sensitive to the damaging effects of radiation, but they also have a longer potential life span in which that damage can morph into cancer.| | | Next → | Single Page