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Emergency department CT exams of children have increased substantially
Date:4/4/2011

OAK BROOK, Ill. Computed tomography examinations of children in hospital emergency departments increased substantially from 1995 to 2008, according to a new study published online and in the June print edition of Radiology. Researchers said the findings underscore the need for collaboration among medical professionals to ensure that pediatric CT is appropriately ordered, performed and interpreted.

"We need to think creatively about how to partner with each other, with ordering clinicians and with CT manufacturers to ensure that all children are scanned only when it is appropriate and with appropriate techniques," said the study's lead author, David B. Larson, M.D., M.B.A., director of quality improvement in the Department of Radiology at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center in Ohio.

Advancements in CT technology like helical scanning have made it a vital tool for rapid diagnostic evaluation of children in the emergency department. Decreased scan times are especially helpful in eliminating the need for sedation in many pediatric cases.

However, the relatively higher radiation doses associated with CT, compared to most other imaging exams, have raised concerns over an increase in risks associated with ionizing radiation. A child's organs are more sensitive to the effects of radiation than those of an adult, and they have a longer remaining life expectancy in which cancer may potentially form. In addition, the current prevalence of CT makes it more likely that children will receive a higher cumulative lifetime dose of medically related radiation than those who are currently adults.

To study CT utilization trends in children, Dr. Larson and colleagues analyzed National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey data from 1995 to 2008.

The number of pediatric emergency department visits that included a CT examination increased five-fold over the study period, from roughly 330,000 to 1.65 million, with
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Contact: Linda Brooks
lbrooks@rsna.org
630-590-7762
Radiological Society of North America
Source:Eurekalert

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