X-Ray or a CT Scan?

You also mentioned that: Preliminary evidence suggests that after head trauma, the most important children to undergo CT scan include those under two, those in bicycle accidents, those who are dizzy, who have changes in behavior or vision, and those with a skull fracture. To know if there had been a subtle skull fracture, you suggested that it would be better to get a regular x-ray first rather than opting for CT straightaway. Why is that so?

Dr. Greene’s Answer:

I was taught as a pediatric resident that skull x-rays were obsolete, that if you were wondering about a fracture you should just get the CT to avoid exposing the child to radiation twice. I now disagree. While a CT scan can indeed answer the skull fracture question (and more), it takes hundreds of times more radiation to do this. If a skull fracture would be the only reason for getting a CT, you can settle that question with a regular skull x-ray first, saving many children from unnecessary CT scans.

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 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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