No Increase in Pediatric ER CT Scan Use from 2003 to 2010

Use of CT in emergency rooms has not increased; decrease seen when other options available

MONDAY, Feb. 13 (HealthDay News) -- From 2003 to 2010, there was no overall increase in computed tomography (CT) scan utilization in pediatric emergency departments (PEDs), and decreased trends for CT use are being seen when alternative nonradiation-based modalities are available, according to a study published Feb. 13 in Pediatrics.

Margaret J.A. Menoch, M.D., of Emory University in Atlanta, and colleagues reviewed 2003 to 2010 electronic chart records at two tertiary care PEDs within a large pediatric health care system to identify trends in CT use. The annual CT utilization rates were compared with alternative imaging trends for visits with main complaints of head injury, seizure, and abdominal pain.

The researchers found that, from 2003 to 2010, there was no change in overall CT utilization or within anatomic subgroups. Significant declines were seen in head CT utilization for the chief complaints of seizure and head injury. For abdominal pain, there was no change in the abdominal CT utilization rate but there was a significant increase in abdominal ultrasound utilization.

"Our data showed no overall increase in CT utilization through 2010," the authors write. "This is the first large PED cohort study to show a decrease in CT utilization in recent years in a regional pediatric referral center and may correlate with increased awareness of radiation risk in children."

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