In May, the British Medical Journal published an article entitled Cancer risk in 680 000 people exposed to computed tomography scans in childhood or adolescence: data linkage study of 11 million Australians by John D Mathews and colleagues. This landmark paper attempts for the first time to relate incidences of cancer in young people to Computed Tomography (CT) scans received, through a large population-based study.
The findings indicated that cancer incidence was 24% greater for people who had received CT scans in their youth. The incidence of cancer was higher the younger the patient when first scanned. The authors state that their “findings justify concerns about risk from CT scan exposures in childhood…” and say that clinicians will have to weigh the benefits of CT scanning with the illustrated risks. Furthermore, they say that “decision tools to objectively assess the need for CT are still not used routinely”.
Imaging for head trauma accounts for most CT scans in children, with an average effective radiation dose of 4.5mSv per scan. A full-body Lodox scan has a radiation dose of just 0.099mSv. The Lodox X-ray scanner has been used effectively in trauma departments as a means of reducing CT scans to all patient groups and, due to its very low emitted dose, is ideal for paediatric screening.