“Like many radiology departments around the country, we are concerned about the increasing radiation exposure to children caused by increased usage of CT. When we looked into it, our emergency physicians told us that parents' expectations may play a role,” said David B. Larson, MD, lead author of the study, from The Children’s Hospital in Denver. “The emergency room clinicians tell us anecdotally that a number of parents expect that their child will undergo CT even before the child is seen by a physician. Parents rarely seem to understand the associated risks, so we thought it might be helpful to our emergency room colleagues to provide a handout to parents to explain, in basic terms, the risks associated with CT,” said Larson.

The study consisted of 100 parents of children undergoing non-emergent CT studies who were surveyed before and after reading an informational handout that described radiation risks. Of the 100 parents surveyed, 66 percent believed that CT uses radiation; 99 percent afterwards. 13 percent of those surveyed before reading the handout believed CT increases the lifetime risk of cancer, versus 86 percent surveyed afterward.

According to the study, after reading the handout, parents became less willing to have their child undergo a CT examination if their doctor believed that either CT or observation would be equally effective. Their willingness to have their child undergo CT recommended by their doctor did not significantly change. No parent refused or requested to defer CT after reading the handout.

“While most parents knew that CT uses radiation, we were surprised to find that most parents did not realize that this radiation exposure is associated with an increased risk of cancer,” said Larson.

MEDICA.de; Source: American Roentgen Ray Society