Deadly Risks of CT Scans in Children

Posted in Uncategorized on January 11, 2023

CT scans are a valuable imaging tool to visualize nearly all parts of the body and diagnose disease or injury. However, pediatric CT scans have become a public health concern due to the risk of increased radiation exposure to children, which can be deadly. If you need to talk to a medical malpractice lawyer, call our experienced team today. 

The Danger of CT Scans in Children

Studies have shown that there is a slight increase in the risk of contracting cancer, even from low levels of radiation, particularly in children. This is because children are considerably more sensitive to radiation than adults and have a larger window of opportunity (life expectancy) for radiation damage to develop. The cancer risk is highest for children who undergo an abdominal CT. A study completed at the University of California, Davis found that cancer occurs in one of every 300 to 400 girls who have an abdominal scan and one in every 700 to 800 boys. The most common form of CT for children is a head scan, which the study found raises the risk of leukemia in about two per 10,000 scans in children under the age of five. 

Unique Considerations for CT Scans in Children

Several steps can be taken to reduce the amount of radiation that a child is exposed to. For example: 

  • The CT Scan Must be Necessary: There are alternatives to CT scans that can be used to avoid exposing a child to radiation. Physicians should consider other options first, and parents should ask for them. CT scans should only be performed if absolutely necessary. 
  • Lowest Amount of Radiation: The radiation exposure parameters should be adjusted based on a child’s size. The region of the body being scanned can also be limited to the smallest area possible. For skeletal, lung imaging and some CT angiographic, lower mA and/or kVp settings should also be considered. 
  • Limit the Number of Scans: CT examinations that use multiple scans during different phases of contrast enhancement may be unnecessary in a pediatric CT. A diagnosis can often be made with a lower-resolution scan and does not always require the highest quality images (which need the most radiation). 

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Is Overuse of CT Scans a Form of Medical Malpractice? 

Although there are countless circumstances when a CT scan is needed, there are situations where children and adults alike are unnecessarily exposed to radiation. CT scans have grown in popularity and commonly take the place of tests that use lower doses of radiation, such as x-rays, or those that do not use radiation, such as ultrasounds and MRIs. Due to the deadly risks of CT scans in children, the unjustifiable use or failure to adjust the radiation dosage may constitute medical malpractice. 

Therefore, if you or your child has been diagnosed with cancer and has a history of CT scans that you believe may not have been medically necessary, speak to a Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Lawyer. Most offer free consultations during which you can discuss your situation and whether there are legal options available to you.