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CT scans

Children exposed to harmful radiation from unnecessary CT scans

Monday, October 12, 2009 by: S. L. Baker, features writer
Tags: CT scans, health news, Natural News

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(NaturalNews) If a child is accidentally hit in the head with a baseball or kicked in the forehead during roughhousing, it can be scary for the youngster and the parents, too. After all, traumatic brain injuries are sometimes serious. They result in about 7,400 deaths a year to American kids 18 years old and younger. So it makes sense to have children checked out for a concussion or other signs of brain injury if they've experienced head trauma, especially if they were knocked unconscious. But far too many kids with knocks to their "noggins" are being routinely treated as if they had serious brain injuries -- even if they don't have significant symptoms of a neurological problem -- and given unnecessary, radiation-loaded computerized tomography (CT) scans.

That's the conclusion of a study just published online and slated for an upcoming edition of the print version of the medical journal the Lancet. Nathan Kuppermann, of the University of California at Davis Departments of Emergency Medicine and Pediatrics, and colleagues found there are validated ways doctors can identify children at very low risk of clinically important traumatic brain injuries (ciTBIs). That's important because these simple, non-invasive findings on an exam should keep the vast majority of youngsters with head trauma from having CT scans which expose them to potentially cancer-causing radiation.

The study investigated the records of more than 42,000 children, including CT scans that had been performed on 35 percent of them. About 25 percent of the youngsters were under the age of two, and the others were three to 18 years old. Out of this group, ciTBIs had occurred in only 376 (one percent) and just 60 (0.1 percent) underwent neurosurgery for their injuries.

The researchers found there were specific clinical findings that turned out to be strong predictors indicating a child under two did not have a ciTBI. Normal mental status, no scalp swelling (except frontal), no loss of consciousness or loss of consciousness of less than five seconds, non-severe mechanism of the injury, no palpable skull fracture, and the child appearing, according to parents, to be acting normally were signs that correctly predicted 100 percent of the 1176 toddler patients who ended up not to have a ciTBI. Almost a fourth of the children younger than two who were in this low-risk group had, however, been subjected to CT scans and exposed to ionizing radiation, a well-known risk factor for future cancers.

The researchers also came up with another prediction rule to identify children older than two who did not have ciTBI. Those without a significant brain injury had normal mental status, no loss of consciousness, no vomiting, non-severe injury mechanism, no signs of a fracture at the base of their skull, and no severe headache. This list of signs and symptoms correctly predicted 99.95 percent (all but two) of the 3,800 patients who did not have a ciTBI.

Once again, however, the researchers found that a large number of these youngsters, 20 percent, had been given CT scans even though they were actually at low risk for brain trauma. Bottom line: if doctors used the prediction rules listed above most children with bumps to the head would avoid CT scans and the accompanying radiation exposure.

"In this study of more than 42 000 children with minor blunt head trauma, we derived and validated highly accurate prediction rules for children at very low risk of ciTBIs for whom CT scans should be avoided. Application of these rules could limit CT use, protecting children from unnecessary radiation risks. Furthermore, these rules provide the necessary data to assist clinicians and families in CT decision making after head trauma," the researchers conclude in their paper.

As NaturalNews has reported previously, many scientists are starting to question the medical industry's push to use CT scans widely, even on the healthy and non-injured. In fact, Americans' radiation exposure has soared 600 percent over the last 29 years due to the enormous use of scanning technology (https://www.naturalnews.com/026113_medical_im...).

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