ARRS: The younger the patient, the greater the CT radiation risk
According to research presented May 3 at the American Roentgen Ray Society (ARRS) 2010 annual meeting in San Diego, the estimated radiation risk associated with abdominal and pelvic CT scans are twice as high for younger patients than older patients.

James N. Koonce, MD, and colleagues from the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, S.C. said that different variables, including patient size, age and the region of the body being imaged present different risk levels. 

“Estimating the risks associated with ionizing radiation is complex,” said Koonce, noting that the study specifically observed the overall risks associated with abdominal/pelvic CT scans in regard to patient sex and age.

The researchers recruited 51 patients from the Medical University who had undergone routine contrast-enhanced abdominal and pelvic CT examinations. They determined that the estimated radiation risk for a 74 year old was approximately 0.47 per every 1,000 cases. For a 31 year old however, this rate nearly doubled, reaching 0.91 per 1,000 cases. 

In addition, the median radiation risk to the 25 males in the study was found to be 0.61 per every 1,000 cases, and for the 26 females, 0.74 per 1,000 cases.

Koonce explained that by physicians becoming more familiar with the different risk levels involved with radiation exposure to a patient during an abdominal or pelvic CT, a greater accurate risk benefit evaluation and better clinical decisions will be reached.

“Clinicians ordering imaging tests must use their best clinical judgment to select patients with a reasonable pre-test probability that the diagnosis afforded by CT will give valuable information to effect patient management,” concluded Koonce.