A study published in the September 2015 issue of Pediatrics finds a significant decrease in the use of computed tomography (CT) scans at children’s hospitals for 10 common childhood diagnoses including seizure, concussion, appendectomy and upper respiratory tract infection.
Children’s hospitals are using alternate types of imaging such as ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) more frequently for 8 of the 10 diagnoses. The study’s authors say the decline in CT usage may be attributable to a growing body of evidence linking ionizing radiation from CT scans to increased risk of cancer in patients and the adoption of electronic health records which allows for the easy transfer of medical data and images limiting the need for duplicate scans. The study, “Computed Tomography and Shifts to Alternate Imaging Modalities in Hospitalized Children,” is the first of its kinds to look at CT usage across multiple hospitals and conditions.
The study used data from the Children’s Hospital Association’s Pediatric Health Information System (PHIS), a comparative pediatric database of clinical and resource utilization information for inpatient, ambulatory surgery emergency department and observation unit patient encounters for 45 children’s hospitals.
The authors looked at inpatients and observation patients for 10 specific diagnoses at 33 participating hospitals from Jan. 1, 2004, to Dec. 31, 2012. The ten diagnoses analyzed for diagnostic imaging use included seizure, ventricular shunt procedure, craniotomy, concussion, severe head trauma, appendectomy, gastroenteritis, abdominal pain, upper respiratory tract infection and ENT conditions.