Saturday, November 1, 2008

Dangers of CT Scans

Everything in medicine is risk versus benefit.

A recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine by Brenner, et al, has alerted the public as well as physicians about the possible dangers of radiation exposure with increased use of the CT scan.

Much of the data we have concerning radiation exposure comes from that gathered on the survivors of the atomic bombs we dropped on Japan in 1945. It has been suggested that the median dose of radiation in these studies that has shown an increase in cancer risk is the equivalent of 2-3 CT scans. It is worth noting that the type of radiation emitted by a bomb is different than that used in scanning, but it is still ionizing radiation.

In a Swedish study by Hall,et al, looking at infants who had received radiation treatments for cutaneous hemangiomas, such as wine-stain birthmarks, showed some decrease in cognitive abilities in their teenage years and early adulthood. It is well known that children are more sensitive to ionizing radiation than adults. It has been suggested that after the age of 50 the increased risk of cancer is not statistically relevant if the patient has not received CT scans in the past. Read the entire article.

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