Radiation Risks Nearly Double for Younger CT Scan Patients

MONDAY May 3, 2010 -- Radiation risks associated with abdominal and pelvic CT scans are twice as high for younger patients as older patients, a new study finds.

"Estimating the risks associated with ionizing radiation is complex," study author Dr. James Koonce, of the Medical University of South Carolina, said in a news release. "Many variables such as patient size, age, and the region of the body being imaged all affect the total risk. Our study looked at how the overall risks associated with abdominal/pelvic CT scans depend on patient sex and age."

The study included 51 patients who underwent routine contrast-enhanced abdominal and pelvic CT scans.

"We found that the estimated radiation risk for a 31-year-old (0.91 per 1,000) was about double that for a 74-year-old (0.47 per 1,000). The median radiation risk to 25 males was 0.61 per 1,000 and for 26 females was 0.74 per 1,000," Koonce said.

The study was to be presented Monday at the American College of Radiology/American Roentgen Ray Society annual meeting in San Diego.

"Clinicians ordering imaging tests must use their best clinical judgment to select patients with a reasonable pre-test probability that the diagnosis afforded by CT will give valuable information to affect patient management," Koonce said.

"Knowing the risk involved with radiation exposure to a patient during an abdominal/pelvic CT allows for more accurate risk benefit evaluation when a physician is deciding whether or not to order an exam," he added.

More information

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more about CT scans.

Posted: May 2010


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