Research UPDATE: Low Dose CT Scans in Children

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Kid CT Scan courtesy of GE HealthThe use of CT scans in the hydrocephalus community has been a concern among many due to the use of multiple CT scans and the radiation exposure experienced. On October 10, 2013, we posted a blog titled, Use of Limited Sequence CT Scans In Pediatric Hydrocephalus, about a study out of Johns Hopkins by Dr. Edward Ahn. In the blog, we described Dr. Ahn’s study that demonstrated that the use of limited sequence CT scans (seven slices instead of the usual 32 to 40 slices) was sufficiently accurate at detecting shunt malfunctions and estimated that the limited sequence would reduce radiation doses by an average of 91.8% compared to standard head CTs. Thus, the researchers concluded that the limited-sequence scans were adequate and would not have compromised clinical outcomes.

This topic of the use of CT scans and the risks of the radiation exposure is not only an important topic in the hydrocephalus community but also for researchers. Another study,
Low-dose head computed tomography in children: a single institutional experience in pediatric radiation risk reduction, was just published in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics. This study describes the experience of researchers at Seattle Children’s Hospital use of low dose head CT scans in children. For this study, researchers reviewed all low-dose head CT scans for a one year time period. Two different doses were used: one-half and one-quarter of the dose of a standard head CT scan. The most common reason for receiving a head CT was for evaluation of the ventricles and catheter placement in hydrocephalic patients (70%). The researchers found that the use of the low-dose head CT substantially reduced the amount of radiation exposure while providing efficient image quality and diagnostic value.

The researchers noted that their institution has adopted the “as low as reasonably achievable” radiation dosing strategy to reduce the amount of radiation exposure. Full dose CT scans may be required in certain situations such as diagnostic uncertainty or in patients with non-MRI compatible devices; however, the low-dose CT scans appear to be adequate for postoperative, follow-up and surveillance.

This is an interesting and important topic and we hope to be able to share more about what researchers are learning about how to minimize the exposure to radiation many in our community experience.

You can read the study here.

* photo by GE Health

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