(HealthDay News) – Computed tomography (CT) scans are significantly more commonly used in young veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) compared to young veterans without PTSD, according to research published in the May issue of Radiology.

Thad E. Abrams, MD, from the Veterans Rural Health Resource Center-Central Region in Iowa City, Iowa, and colleagues retrospectively analyzed data regarding health care utilization and medical conditions, including PTSD, from a national sample of new veteran enrollees (aged 18–35 years).

The researchers found that 13% received at least one CT scan and PTSD was identified in 21.1% of the cohort (76,812 participants). Of the veterans with PTSD, 22.9% (3,711 of 16,182) received at least one CT scan, compared with 10.4% (6,307 of 60,630) of veterans without PTSD (P<0.0001). Comorbid conditions that significantly explained the association between CT scans and PTSD were traumatic brain injury (odds ratio [OR], 3.54), abdominal pain (OR, 4.01), and headaches (OR, 3.07). Similarly, significant associations were seen for high levels of emergency room (OR, 2.73) and primary care (OR, 2.38) utilization. Prior to the diagnosis of PTSD, the daily chance of receiving a CT scan was seven times higher (daily chance, 0.007 before vs. 0.001 after).

“These findings reveal an association between CT scan utilization and PTSD in young veterans presenting with somatic complaints,” the authors write. “To optimize appropriate CT utilization, the results of this study highlight the need for future research to determine why so many CT scans are being obtained in patients with PTSD.”

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