Radiation exposure in children and young people is associated with a small but important increased cancer risk.
A new website with information and resources for referrers, medical imaging providers, patients and parents has been launched to support referral and provision of CT for children and young people, with the aim of reducing unwarranted radiation exposure.
Radiation exposure in children
Each year over 80,000 CT scans are performed on children and young people in Australia.1 CT scans are an important tool, providing non-invasive imaging that can be essential in the diagnosis of many conditions and disorders. However, local and international research has confirmed that, in this population, radiation exposure from CT scans is associated with a small but important increased cancer risk.2-4
Ensuring that the benefit of a scan will outweigh associated radiation risks (and potential risk of malignancy) is an important consideration for referrers, medical imaging providers, parents and carers.
To help reduce the risk of unwarranted radiation exposure while supporting the use of CT scans when clinically necessary, the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC) has partnered with other key health organisations to create a collection of resources that address the needs and concerns of all people who may be involved in the CT patient journey.
These resources include:
- information and decision support tools for referrers, including a factsheet written with the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency
- posters, brochures and other support tools for dental healthcare professionals
- protocols, guidelines, online training modules and general information for radiographers and other medical imaging providers
- information, brochures and posters for parents and carers produced in association with NPS MedicineWise, the Association for the Wellbeing of Children in Healthcare and the Australian Dental Association (for information specific to cone beam CT).
Access to these and other resources, including videos and interactive tablet games, is freely available through a dedicated web page hosted by Healthdirect Australia.
- Australian Radiation and Nuclear Safety Agency. CT scans for children: Information for referrers. 2013. [Online] (accessed 19 June 2013).
- Mathews JD, Forsythe AV, Brady Z, et al. Cancer risk in 680 000 people exposed to computed tomography scans in childhood or adolescence: data linkage study of 11 million Australians. BMJ 2013;346:f2360. [PubMed].
- Miglioretti DL, Johnson E, Williams A, et al. The use of computed tomography in pediatrics and the associated radiation exposure and estimated cancer risk. JAMA Pediatr 2013:1-8. [PubMed].
- Pearce MS, Salotti JA, Little MP, et al. Radiation exposure from CT scans in childhood and subsequent risk of leukaemia and brain tumours: a retrospective cohort study. Lancet 2012;380:499-505. [PubMed].