Posted on March 4, 2010 · Posted in Brain Injury

Federal authorities, hospitals and radiology groups are looking to cut back the use of CT scans, which can pinpoint a brain tumor in seconds, according to the Wall Street Journal.

That because there is mounting evidence that CT scans expose millions of patients to radiation that could increase their risk for cancer. These scans use much more radiation, from 50 to 500 times the dose, than X-rays.

The Food and Drug Administration is taking steps to decrease unnecessary radiation from medical imaging and is working on new guidelines for the making of CT equipment.

The number of CT scans, also called CAT scans, has risen to 70 million a year from 3 million a year in 1980.

The Journal story notes that the American College of Radiology defended the use of CT scans, and allegations that linked their radiation to cancer. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2007 estimated that up to 2 percent of all U.S. cancers could have been caused by radiation from CT scans.

From our perspective, the problem with CT scans is that they are too often used in lieu of much more sensitive tools in those with concussions. Unless there is a bleed, swelling or a hematoma, the CT will be normal. Yet too many ER doctors send someone off to a CT rather than talking to them and waiting for signs of amnesia to begin to manifest. Fewer CT’s in those who are not at risk of a bleed would be good. More questions asked that probe memory from the time five minutes after the accident to three hours after the accident will identify far more serious concussions.

I propose that be the protocol for CT. Make the hospital staff hold the patient longer, asking them more questions, and then if there is a change in apparent orientation, or other neurological signs, then do the CT.

About the Author

Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice :: 800-992-9447