There’s often a lot of information in the media and medical journals about CT scans (known as Computed Tomography) and how they expose children to radiation. Most recently, The Lancet, a medical journal, published a study that reports that children who get multiple CT scans are at increased risk of leukemia and brain cancer.
We know children are more sensitive than adults to radiation exposure and that CT scans are one of the most common and significant medical exposures of children to radiation. We also know that although the risk of radiation from a CT scan is low, it’s not zero. There can be a slight increased risk of cancer later in life.
“We take this seriously, and we do everything we possibly can at Children’s to minimize the level of radiation exposure to our patients while preserving the quality of the images we need,” said William Mize, MD, a pediatric radiologist.
- Our scan settings are adjusted according to your child’s size and age.
- We work under the ALARA (as low as reasonably achievable) principle. Some of the steps we take include limiting the area of exposure to include only the area of specific medical concern and shielding sensitive areas such as breast shielding during chest CT.
- We don’t recommend a CT scan as a diagnostic test unless it’s necessary. When appropriate, we suggest other imaging tests such as an ultrasound or MRI (or magnetic resonance imaging) which do not use radiation.
- We continue to re-evaluate our protocols and explore new opportunities for reducing radiation.
For many medical problems in children, the CT scan is invaluable. Often, it’s the only test that can provide the information needed to optimally treat children. There are potential risks and benefits to all medical treatments and procedures.
The CT scan is capable of viewing all the internal organs, which may lead to a diagnosis that was previously only possible with surgery. When we recommend a CT scan, the benefits to a child’s health from the information obtained outweigh the minimal risk associated with the low dose of radiation.
Where kids are concerned, rest assured that their safety and health are our top priority.
For more information about our procedures involving radiology, click here.
To read the Society for Pediatric Radiology’s response to The Lancet article, click here.