CT Scan Radiation Study Finds Guidelines Reduce Exposure Risks

An emerging study out of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center has found that by simply setting guidelines for CT scans for children with head injuries, a reduction can be seen in an array of exposure risks, said Health Imaging.

We have long been writing about the dangerous issues surrounding CT scans and related radiation exposure risks, citing a range of experts urging for better regulation over these diagnostic tests. Long-term cancer risks and radiation overdoses are just two of the issues recently linked to this type of testing. Most recently, Reuters reported that imaging tests often used in the treatment of pediatric cancers can lead to high radiation levels in young patients, which can later lead to repeat or new cancers.

“Implementation of a relatively simple guideline helps guide and standardize the plan of care in children diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injury,” said Richard Falcone, MD, MPH, director of trauma services at Cincinnati Children’s, quoted Health Imaging. “Future and more widespread implementation of such guidelines can continue to improve overall care for injured children,” he added.

Guidelines have been found to reduce not only risk of radiation overdose, but hospital inpatient stays and costs, while also improving both patient and family satisfaction, said Health Imaging, citing the study. The research was presented at this year’s meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which also revealed that establishing CT guidelines at Cincinnati Children’s led to reduced necessity for scans and cut the average per-patient cost by $8,000, said Health Imaging.

The study, which was retrospective, looked at 712 emergency room patients admitted for blunt head trauma over four years; “trauma physicians, neurosurgeons, and nurses” created follow-up standards following initial scans for newly admitted patients, depended risk level based on injury, explained Health Imaging.

Imaging is quick, detailed, and has increased significantly in the past decade, many times in favor of ultrasound and MRIs, which do not use radiation. Radiation exposure does not cause pain, damage does not generally show up immediately, and effects accumulate over time, explained the Associated Press, previously.

Implications from radiation overdose to the pediatric community are particularly complex, said Reuters previously. For instance, while pediatric cancer survivors experience a greater-than-normal risk of being diagnosed with another cancer later in live, radiation exposure from original treatments could increase the odds of additional or repeat cancers. A challenge since imaging tests are needed for diagnosing and treating childhood cancers, said Reuters.

Yesterday we wrote that Senate Bill (SB) 1237 was signed into law by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger following reports that some 269 Cedars-Sinai Medical Center patients were exposed to dangerous radiation overdoses during CT scans that were a massive eight times larger than doses prescribed, wrote Cardiovascular Business. The bill includes protocols meant to protect patients from excess radiation exposure when undergoing CT scans, said Cardiovascular Business, and passed the State Assembly in California this August following the 18-month debacle.

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