Medical Scans Pose Higher Risk for Children

Children more frequently being exposed to radiation in medical scans

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) The frequency of children undergoing medical imaging tests that use radiation is becoming a concern, due to potential cancer risks associated with multiple procedures.

Radiation exposure due to medical diagnostic imaging is becoming a concern due to children frequently undergoing these tests, such as CT scans. Because of the radiation, there are fears that the tests could potentially lead to the formation of cancers later on. Infants, children and adolescents are at an increased risk of health complications due to their still-forming tissues.

The procedure getting the most attention in this battle against over-usage of medical imaging on children is the CT scan, which requires much more radiation than a normal x-ray.

Researchers at the University of Michigan conducted a study to gauge the scope and frequency of medical imaging tests performed on children in five U.S. health care markets. Over 355,000 children under the age of 18 were part of the survey. Nearly half of them had at least one procedure done in 3 years and most are projected to receive around 7 by the time they turn 18.

More importantly, nearly 8 percent of the children underwent a CT scan and almost half of those received more than one. Of course, it is important to remember that these tests can be life-saving and are often necessary for proper medical treatment. However, radiation dosage can be lowered and still achieve a good image result when used on children's more delicate tissues.

The study aims to encourage smarter use of medical imaging tests on children, ensuring that tests are not superfluous and that radiation dosage is adjusted where possible.

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Review Date: 
January 4, 2011
Last Updated:
January 4, 2011