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New publication: Childhood exposure to ionizing radiation from computed tomography imaging in Nova Scotia

Posted by Krista Whitehouse on October 20, 2015 in Pediatrics
CT scan
CT scan

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Inman M1, Otley A1, Dummer T2, Cui Y3, Schmidt MH4, Parker L5.

Background

Examining radiation dose in the paediatric population is particularly important due to the vulnerability of paediatric patients (increased radiosensitive tissues and postexposure life-years) and risk for future radiogenic malignancy.

Objectives

To evaluate trends in paediatric computed tomography (CT) use and ionizing radiation exposure using population-based data from Nova Scotia.

Methods

A retrospective, population-based cohort study of CT use in patients <20 years of age, from January 1, 2004 to December 31, 2011, was performed in Nova Scotia. CT examination data were retrieved from a provincial imaging repository. Trends in CT use were described, and both annual and cumulative effective dose exposures were calculated.

Results

In total, 29,452 CT events, involving up to 22,867 individuals were retrieved. Overall annual paediatric CT examination rates remained static (range 17.4 to 18.8 per 1000 per year). However, use in children <10 years of age decreased by >50% (P<0.001); this was counterbalanced by a steady increase among 15- to 19-year-olds (P<0.0001). Overall, 15.4% of scanned patients underwent ≥2 examinations, of which 58 patients (1.6%) exceeded 50 mSv of exposure.

Conclusions

Despite a static rate in CT imaging among the entire cohort, children <15 years of age and, particularly, those <10 years of age displayed marked reductions in CT use. This may reflect increased awareness of campaigns emphasizing judicious CT use, revised clinical practice guidelines and increased availability of alternative modalities. A small subgroup demonstrated high-dose exposure (>50 mSv), and rates in individuals >15 years of age steadily increased, suggesting further exposure reduction efforts are necessary.


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