safety, not CT, is first choice at Dayton Children's
A study released last week noted a rise in computed tomography (CT) scans performed in children. According to physicians, there is no doubt that CT is a valuable tool in medically evaluating children and can help save the lives of countless children each year. At Dayton Children’s, however, CT and other medical imaging procedures containing radiation, are not always the first choice when evaluating kids.
“The actively growing tissues in children are more sensitive to radiation. A child’s life expectancy is longer compared to an older adult meaning the effects of radiation exposure last longer in a child,” explains Elizabeth Ey, MD, medical director of medical imaging at Dayton Children’s. “Doctors who choose to image a child should expose him or her to kid-sized doses. More is not always better.”
In 2006, about four million CT scans were performed nationally in children. This is triple the number of scans in 2001. At Dayton Children’s, the number of CT scans reduced from 7,100 in 2008 to just over 6,000 in 2010. For 2011, Dayton Children’s is on track to perform less than 5,000 CT scans, a reduction of over 20 percent in just three years.
“CT scans help us save children’s lives, but should only be performed when necessary,” Ey says. “Alternative imaging to CT scanning, like ultrasound and magnetic resonance (MRI) should be considered whenever possible.”
Headaches, Crohn's disease, pyloric stenosis, intussusceptions and osteomyelitis are just a few examples of conditions that doctors are currently using MRI and ultrasound to diagnose and treat instead of CT and X-ray.
Ey and the medical imaging department at Dayton Children’s are proud of their history of doing the right thing for their pediatric patients. “Radiation safety has always been a priority for us. We continue to improve our ways to diagnose childhood illness in a safe and caring environment.”
In cases when a child does need an imaging study requiring radiation, the experts at Dayton Children’s realize one size does not fit all. Children who take medicines are given “kid-sized” doses because of their size. But when a doctor orders a CT scan (computed tomography), not all hospitals reduce the amount of radiation to fit the child’s size.
The pediatric radiologists at Dayton Children’s individualize each CT examination to account for a child’s weight and size, ensuring that the child receives the minimum radiation needed to complete the procedure.
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