-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
FRIDAY, Feb. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Not all children who suffer
injuries to their abdomen need abdominal CT scans, according to a
If emergency room doctors assess seven factors when evaluating
children with this type of injury, they can protect some of these
young patients from unnecessary radiation exposure, said
researchers from the University of California, Davis School of
Medicine. Radiation exposure can increase the risk of cancer later
in life, they noted in a university news release.
The study, published online Feb. 1 in the
Annals of Emergency Medicine, involved more than 12,000
children from across the United States who were treated in the
emergency department for blunt trauma to the abdomen. Using
statistical analysis, the researchers identified the factors that
correlated with risk for a serious injury that required acute
When evaluating children with abdominal injuries, such as those
from a car or bicycle crash, a fall or an assault, the researchers
suggested that emergency physicians look for evidence of trauma on
the abdomen or chest (such as seat-belt marks), neurological
changes, abdominal pain or tenderness, abnormal breathing sounds
Children who did not have any of these factors, the researchers
found, had just a 0.1 percent chance of needing an abdominal CT
scan. They added that in most of these cases, a CT scan would
probably not provide additional useful information so exposing a
child to unnecessary radiation would not be justified.
"CT scans involve significant radiation risk, especially for children, who are more vulnerable than adults to radiation's effects," study principal investigator and lead author James Holmes, a professor of emergency medicine at the UC Davis School of Medicine, said in the news release. "We have now identified a population of pediatric patients that does not typically benefit from a CT scan, which is an important step in reducing radiation exposure."
The study authors noted the seven factors they identified can
help doctors rule out a CT scan, but the presence of one or more
factors doesn't necessarily mandate this test. They noted that
doctors must use their judgment and also consider lab tests,
ultrasounds and longer periods of observation on a case-by-case
basis to determine when a CT scan is needed.
The researchers pointed out that more research is needed to
confirm their findings.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about
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