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“CAT Scan Use Surges For Kids”

CAT scans or CT scans (computerized tomography) are on the rise for children visiting  the emergency room (ER).  A recent study in the journal Radiology found that the number of ER visits nation-wide are soaring for kids and went from 330,000 in 1995 to 1.65 million in 2008, which is a five-fold increase.  With that activity, the percentage of visits involving CT scans climbed from about 1 percent to almost 6 percent.  This raises concerns some kids may be exposed to adult-sized radiation doses and potential risks for cancer later in their lives.  General hospitals may be less likely than pediatric facilities to use special CT protocols with kids to limit their radiation exposure.  Increases in CT scan use have also occurred in adults, generating increasing awareness about overuse and potential harm because radiation exposure can cause later cancers.  Experts agree that  “CT scans in kids require special oversight, including adjusting doses to their smaller size, because they are more sensitive to radiation than adults, with longer life spans and more time for radiation-related cancers to develop.”  

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