How much radiation from your CT scanner?

Our children’s hospital, along with many others, has made a concerted effort to reduce radiation exposure by adjusting CT scan settings.  Even a single abdominal CT scan may confer a small but real risk of developing cancer.  The trade-off with low-dose CT techniques has been a concern about poor image quality.  New research indicates that low-dose CT scan is not inferior to standard-dose CT with respect to detecting appendicitis (NEJM 2012; 366: 1596-605).

This single-center study examined 441 patients assigned in a single-blind fashion to low-dose CT (median dose: 116 mGy-cm) in comparison to 447 patients receiving a standard-dose CT (median dose: 521 mGy-cm).  All patients had CT for suspected appendicitis.  The negative appendectomy rate was 3.5% in the low-dose group and 3.2% in the standard-dose group.  There was no significant difference in appendiceal perforation rate or proportion of patients needing more imaging.

How much radiation do your patients receive with a CT scan?

Related newspaper article:

FDA issues guidelines to lower radiation exposure in children:

Related posts:

Magnetic resonance enterography for Crohn’s disease

More imaging needed?

Additional references:

  • -NEJM 2010; 363: 1, 4. Safety of CT.  Can have overdose of radiation and even standard doses could cause complications.  Also, a big issue is downstream unnecessary testing due to incidental findings.
  • -JPGN 2011; 52: 280. Documents high exposure to radiation in large IBD pediatric cohort.
  • -J Clin Gastroenterol 2011; 45: 34-39. High levels of ionizing radiation thru CT scan in pts with IBD.
  • -Pediatr Radiology 2002; 32: 217-313. Minimizing radiation exposure, risk/benefit of CT. Proceedings from conference.
  • -Pediatr Radiology 2002; 32: 700-706. Risk of CT for young child: ~ 1 in 1000 risk of fatal cancer later in life.

2 thoughts on “How much radiation from your CT scanner?

  1. Pingback: “Beyond the bombs: cancer risks of low-dose medical radiation” | gutsandgrowth

  2. Pingback: No Habla Appendicitis | gutsandgrowth

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