A reminder that incremental radiation from CT scans is not without risk, particularly for children. Large-scale study (180,000 British patients who got CT scans between 1985 and 2002 before the age of 22). Even if the overall risk for brain cancer and leukaemia is low, more cautious prescribing of CT scans is warranted (and like everything, involves a balanced assessment of relative risks). Quote:
“There are clearly situations in which CT is indicated: major motor vehicle accidents where there’s multiple potential organ injuries. In abdominal pain where surgery might be required for, say, a bowel obstruction or in some patients with appendicitis,” said Donald Frush of Duke University, speaking on behalf of the American College of Radiology.
If we just focused on the negatives, there are lots of things in life we wouldn’t do. “Just hearing the downsides of driving a car, or crossing a street or flying in an airplane,” he said, “if you only discussed the risks of all of those things no one would drive a car or walk across the street or fly in an airplane.”
Other experts agree. But many argue that a lot of CT scans — maybe as many as half — are unnecessary. So doctors have to be much more selective about how they use them, they say.
“It’s absolutely fair if your physician suggests that you or your child has a CT scan to ask that physician, ‘Why?’ Ask, ‘Are there good medical reasons why the CT scan is justified?’ ” said David Brenner, another Columbia University Medical Center researcher who has long studied the safety of CT scans.