Parents Fret as More and More Kids Get CT Scans
Calm down. None of this is going to turn your child into a mutant freak.
But, yes, the Los Angeles Times reports more and more kids are getting CT scans and, yes, more and more radiation. According to the newspaper, emergency room CT scans among children jumped from 330,000 in 1995 to 1.65 million in 2008.
A study published online in Radiology says this is not because kids are taking more knocks to the noggin. It's because some cool new scanners have come out in the last 16 years and doctors want to take them for a spin.
Take abdominal CT scans. The Times reports they were rarely used in 1995, but they're now used in 15 to 21 percent of emergency room visits.
CT scans are truly spiffy diagnostic tools, but, as the Times points out, they rely on radiation. And kids are more sensitive to radiation than adults.
However, the Times, citing the report in Radiology, says you shouldn't just say no to CT scans because you're afraid radiation will give your child cancer or turn him into the Hulk.
According to the newspaper, you might want to ask:
- Is the test really necessary? Are there other ways to find out what's going on?
- Is there a previous scan already on record?
- Will my child's eyes, thyroid, breasts, reproductive organs and other vulnerable areas be zapped with radiation? If so, can you try a different kind of scan? An MRI perhaps?
- Is this radiology department accredited by the American College of Radiology? Does it follow guidelines to lower radiation exposure for children?
- Really, Dr. House, do you have to be so patronizing? After all, you did misdiagnose my son's condition twice before the second commercial break.
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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.