MONDAY, Dec. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Increasing numbers of U.S. children undergo diagnostic imaging tests such as MRIs and CT scans, and higher-radiation tests account for a growing proportion of these procedures, researchers report.
Their study of 2001-2009 insurance claims in southern California found that high-radiation procedures, which could raise the risk of cancer years later, are most commonly ordered for hospitalized children or those seen in emergency departments because of abdominal pain, headache and head injury.
Overall, physicians affiliated with a pediatric hospital in San Diego ordered 200,000 diagnostic tests using radiation for 63,000 children during the period reviewed, the researchers said. Almost 8,000 of the children had higher-radiation procedures, such as CT scans, angiography (x-ray of the inside of blood vessels) and/or fluoroscopy (moving images).
Older children and boys were more likely than younger kids and girls to undergo these tests, the study said.
"Our findings may help guide clinical practice to reduce unnecessary imaging-related radiation exposure in youth," said lead researcher Dr. Jeannie Huang, an associate professor in the division of pediatric gastroenterology at Rady Children's Hospital, at the University of California, San Diego. The study's goal was to identify where most of these pediatric imaging procedures are ordered, and for which children.
"We focused in particular on diagnostic imaging procedures associated with higher ionizing radiation, including CT, fluoroscopy and angiography," Huang said. "We found that . . . they were done mostly for gastrointestinal complaints and congenital conditions. Trauma and injuries and neurologic complaints also contributed to the use of these tests."
The report was published online Dec. 3 and will appear in the January print edition of the journal Pediatrics.
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