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White children far more likely to receive CT scans than Hispanic, African-American children
Date:10/16/2011

White children are far more likely to receive cranial computed tomography (CT) scans in an emergency department following minor head trauma than are African-American or Hispanic children, a study by researchers at UC Davis has found.

The study findings do not indicate that CT scans are underused in treating African-American and Hispanic children, the researchers said. Rather, they suggest that white children may receive too many CT scans -- and for that reason may be exposed to unnecessary radiation.

The study results were presented today at the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) Scientific Assembly by JoAnne E. Natale, associate professor of pediatric critical care medicine at the UC Davis School of Medicine and the study's lead author.

"The higher rates of cranial CT scan use in children at low risk for clinically significant brain injury may represent overuse in white children, leading to increased radiation exposure and health-care costs," Natale said.

Cranial computed tomography imaging commonly is used to determine the severity of injury in children and adults in emergency departments. Cranial CT scans use X-rays to image the cranium, brain, eye sockets and sinuses.

However, in children with mild head trauma, earlier studies have found that fewer than 10 percent of CT scans identify a traumatic brain injury. CT scans use a significant amount of radiation and thus increase the risk of potential subsequent malignancies.

For the current study, researchers examined data from children whose race and/or ethnicity was Hispanic, non-Hispanic African American, or non-Hispanic white. Although all of the children had minor head trauma, some could be categorized as being at greater risk of a clinically significant injury in which a CT scan may be indicated.

Natale, who also is the medical director of the UC Davis Children's Hospital Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, said that the study utilized
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Contact: Phyllis Brown
phyllis.brown@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu
916-734-9023
University of California - Davis Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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