CT Scan in Children - An Increasing Concern
Computed Tomography (CT) scanning, also called computerized axial tomography (CAT) scanning, is a medical imaging procedure which uses x-rays to obtain cross-sectional images of the body.
The introduction of computed tomography (CT) has almost revolutionized diagnostic radiology.
As the usage of CT scan for diagnosing pediatric ailments rises, the related worries and apprehensions arising due to radiation risks also increase.
A recent study conducted by the Dr. DB Larson and colleagues and published in the Radiology Journal showed the increase in the number of CT scans done on children in the Emergency Department to be fivefold in the 13-year span from 1995 to 2008.
Important questions pertaining to the application of CT scan and radiation exposure in sensitive children were brought to light by the study findings and were discussed at length in the media.
The most troubling thing is the fact that children are exposed to adult-size radiation dose as not all hospitals are well equipped with facilities to reduce the radiation dose.
Children are small and more sensitive to radiation. They have fast dividing cells and more time required for radiation cancers to appear.
Extensive efforts are in progress not only for ensuring the proper use of CT in children but also to expose them to lowest possible radiation rates.
The rise of CT scan usage in youngsters is because of the remarkable technological improvement provided by CT scan, in diagnosing diseases with ease.
Undoubtedly CT scan is an incredible technology. "Thirty years ago, we couldn't see inside the brain. Now, we can do a child's body in half a second. We have technology that gives us exquisite imaging and we don't need to sedate the child. We can have a definitive answer." said Marilyn Goske, MD, a pediatric radiologist at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.
Donald Frush of Duke University is of the opinion that CT scan application is highly responsible for reduction in false-negative rates for appendicitis laparotomies from 30% almost twenty years back to 5-7% at present.
There has been a mounting increase in the awareness level among patients and physicians about the implications of CT scan exposure in children.
A multiorganizational campaign - the Image Gently campaign encourages the low dose exposure of CT scan for children to lower the associated risks of radiations.
In order to guarantee safety, the parents should have a vivid idea of the related radiation risks and should inquire such questions with the physicians before actually going for a CT scan for their kids.
To conclude we can say that the proper dose adjustment in accordance with the child's body size should be done by the doctor while doing CT scanning.
CT scan is definitely a wonderful non-invasive technique to find out the hidden pathologies but it has its risks and dangers, so intricate care should be taken when dealing with children. Our aim should be to get the best information by the safest possible way.