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A study at the Mayo Clinic shows that many children are being exposed to excess radiation that can easily be avoided.
The research demonstrates that pediatric patients are getting chest x-rays that serve no purpose and have no medical benefit.
“Chest X-rays can be a valuable exam when ordered for the correct indications,” says researcher Ann Packard, a radiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. “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.”
In the study, the researchers reviewed more than 700 x-ray exams of kids up to the age of 17. When they analyzed the use of x-rays which were not performed on children with congenital heart difficulties or other obvious heart problems, 88 percent of the x-rays were medically unnecessary. They had no influence on how the illness was treated.
“Approximately 12 percent of the chest x-rays for chest pain were positive and included respiratory symptoms such as cough, fever or trauma,” Dr. Packard said. “There were no positive findings in any chest x-ray for syncope (fainting), dizziness, spells (general feeling of illness), cyclical vomiting or POTS (low blood pressure when standing up) for the past five years, even in our tertiary care center with referrals for rare diseases or unusual presentations.”
The researchers believe that doctors should be much more reticent in ordering chest x-rays for children when they are medically unnecessary. If you’re a parent and a doctor orders an x-ray for your child, ask him to clearly explain why he is ordering the test. And you may want a second opinion.