Risks To Kids From CT Scans

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CENTRAL WEST END (KPLR)-This June, researchers announced CT scans may put children at higher risk of developing brain cancer and leukemia.  Doctors at St. Louis Children’s Hospital say they have been trying to reduce that risk for years.

Three-and-a-half year old Hudson McLean went to Children's Hospital for a CT scan.

"This will actually be his first,” said his father, Lee. “So, it's a new experience for him.”

Hudson's doctors recommended the test after the little boy was diagnosed with hearing loss.  Because the scanners use radiation to take pictures of the inside of Hudson’s head, the McLeans had a few questions.

"About the amount of radiation, about any ways to limit it, and if he felt this was a necessary thing to do,” Lee said. “If so, we were on board with him.”

They were curious even before the results of an international study were released just days before.  Researchers found kids were more at risk of developing certain types of cancers after getting repeated scans.  Doctors at Children's say they have been aware  of the risks for over a decade.

"The major children's hospitals, as you mentioned, have already adjusted their doses down to lower levels,” said Chief Radiologist Dr. Robert McKinstry.  "We can do that because we audit our processes. We focus on imaging gently, using a kid-size dose of radiation."

McKinstry added kids who might have to get CT scans in smaller hospitals might end up staring down the exact same amount of radiation that a grown man would.

"Major children's hospitals have experts who feel more comfortable reading a scan that doesn't have as much dose in making a diagnosis.”

That is why Dr. McKinstra said he would never hesitate to bring his own kids to children's for a CT scan, even after hearing the results of this new study.

To read more about the National Cancer Institute study, click here.

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