CT scans for children should be avoided according to new study

A new study suggests that CT (computerised tomography) scans in childhood should be avoided and may contribute to the risk of leukemia or brain cancer. Nearly 190,000 medical records of children were analyzed in the study, led by a team from Newcastle University.

The key results of the report did stress that the advantages outweighed the risks when a scan was required. As reported in The Lancet, the team noted that radiation should be minimized and scans should be performed on children only when justified on medical grounds.

When a CT scan is performed, an x-ray is revolved around the body to create a cross section of views of internal organs to be used for diagnosis. The Newcastle study, the first of its kind to study the long term effects of CT scans, covered the period between 1985 and 2002 and viewed the records of under-21 year olds who had scans performed.

Results from the study suggest that CT scans did minimally increase the risk of brain tumors and leukemia. The analysis showed that prior scans may have contributed to one extra diagnosis of each disease over 10,000 patients.

The authors stressed that CT scans are only performed on children where the advantages of diagnosing other possibly life threatening illnesses outweigh the risks associated with the scan itself. Parents can be assured that doctors have taken into account the potential risk through using a CT scan when deciding on the correct way to treat a child’s illness.

Currently, medical regulation state that CT scans should only be performed when medically justified. The study seems to confirm this is the appropriate response to the risks associated with CT scans.