CT Scan Safety

The safety of CT Scans was a hot topic at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in October 2002. What was the issue all about?

Dr. Greene’s Answer:

A few months earlier, the National Cancer Institute had sent out a letter to physicians in an effort to decrease unnecessary CT scans in children. In the previous decade, the number of CT scans in children each year had skyrocketed 700 percent — into the millions in the US alone. These CT scans had resulted in improved diagnosis, allowed for more effective treatments, and reduced unnecessary surgeries. But we’ve learned that some of these same benefits might now be achieved with fewer CT scans. And CT scans carry their own risk.

Since then, the AAP has continued to look closely at this issue. In September 2007, the AAP published a clinical report on the radiation risk to children from CT scans (PEDIATRICS Volume 120, Number 3, September 2007). Overall, they noted that CT scans use low-level radiation, which may have a small risk of causing cancer. They strongly recommend that pediatric health care professionals, radiologists, and families work together to determine (1) when a CT is indicated and necessary, (2) if there are protocols available to minimize radiation exposure, and (3) that the risks and benefits of the study be discussed with patients and their families.

Read More From This Series:
CT Scan Defined
CT Scan, Ultrasound or MRI?
CT Scan Safety
CT Scans and Radiation Exposure
CT Scan Risks
Higher Risks in Children
Who Should Receive a CT Scan?
X-Ray or a CT Scan?
Alternatives to a CT Scan
When Should a CT Scan be Performed?
Important Tip to Reduce to Radiation
Questions to Ask before Every CT Scan
Other Radiation Exposures
Measures That Radiologists Should Adhere to When Administering a CT Scan
CT Scans and Cancer
When are MRIs not Practical?
What is Ionizing Radiation?
Who are Radiologists?

Dr. Alan Greene

Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.

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