Lowering CT Scan Risk for Children

The Society for Pediatric Radiology is launching a nationwide campaign to highlight the CT scan risks for children as well as suggesting safety measures. Of the 70 million CT scans performed each year, it is estimated that between 5% and 10% of those are performed on children. The risk of radiation exposure is greater in children because of their smaller size and their longer life expectancy.

The “Image Gently” campaign is intended to urge radiologists to administer the lowest dose of radiation to children as well as suggest certain safety measures. Safety measures include covering reproductive organs during a CT scan as well as considering other tests such as an ultrasound.

The Center for Disease Control has estimated that 435,000 children under 14 visit emergency rooms for head trauma each year. Most of these children are administered a CT scan when ER doctors at University of California Davis Children’s Hospital determined most don’t need a CT scan for minor injuries. In response to their findings, these doctors have developed guidelines for doctors to determine who actually needs a CT scan. Part of this determination includes an assessment of the severity of the head injury in relation to the risk of exposure cancer-causing radiation.