A study of insurance claims at a southern California hospital from 2001 to 2009 has found that children are undergoing diagnostic imaging procedures with increasing frequency and that a growing proportion of those procedures are high-radiation scans.
In addition, the proportion of pediatric patients undergoing MRI increased from 1 percent in 2001 to 2.3 percent in 2009; ultrasound increased from 0.2 percent to 2.7 percent of patients; and the use of radiography increased from 28.1 percent of patients to 34.3 percent.
Overall, outpatient settings accounted for 36 to 41 percent of the high radiation procedures.
The findings were published online Dec. 3, in the journal Pediatrics.
"Our findings may help guide clinical practice to reduce unnecessary imaging-related radiation exposure in youth," lead researcher Jeannie Huang, M.D., an associate professor in the division of pediatric gastroenterology at Rady Children's Hospital, at the University of California, San Diego, told HealthDay News. The study's goal was to identify where most of these pediatric imaging procedures are ordered, and for which children.
"We focused in particular on diagnostic imaging procedures associated with higher ionizing radiation, including CT, fluoroscopy and angiography," Huang said. "We found that ... they were done mostly for gastrointestinal complaints and congenital conditions. Trauma and injuries and neurologic complaints also contributed to the use of these tests."