Many Children Could Be Exposed to Unnecessary Chest X-Rays

Children and Unnecessary Chest X-Rays
Children and Unnecessary Chest X-Rays

(HealthDay News) — Many American children receive unnecessary chest X-rays, according to research findings scheduled for presentation Wednesday at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), held from November 30 to December 5 in Chicago.

Researchers examined the reasoning behind 637 chest X-rays given to patients ranging in age from newborns to 17 years at the Mayo Clinic between 2008–2014. Of those X-rays, 88% did not influence treatment, the investigators found.

X-rays were conducted on children with issues such as chest pain, fainting, dizziness, postural orthostatic hypotension, cyclical vomiting, and a general feeling of being unwell or under distress (spells). Thirty-nine of the X-rays for chest pain were positive for pneumonia, bronchial inflammation, trauma, or other conditions. But chest X-rays had no effect on treatment for any of the children with fainting, postural orthostatic hypotension, dizziness, spells, or cyclical vomiting.

"Chest X-rays can be a valuable exam when ordered for the correct indications. However, there are several indications where pediatric chest X-rays offer no benefit and likely should not be performed to decrease radiation dose and cost," study author Ann Packard, MD, a radiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., said in an RSNA news release. Packard noted that limiting radiation exposure and costs are important objectives in health care. "This study addresses both of these issues, which is important not only for physicians but also for young patients and their parents," she said. "I would like this research to help guide clinicians and deter them from ordering unnecessary exams which offer no clinical benefit to the patient."

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