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CT scan information for parents and carers

CT scan information for parents and carers
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CT scans and radiation exposure in children and young people

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission) is promoting new and existing resources to inform the referral and provision of CT scans for children and young people. Assisted by a number of partners, the Commission’s work supports a reduction in unwarranted radiation exposure to children and young people. The Commission has published a summary report on the outcomes of their work to reduce radiation exposure to children and young people from CT scans.

What is a CT scan?

A computed tomography (CT) scan uses X-rays to provide images of what is hard and soft inside a body. These X-rays are taken using a rotating ring that is moved around the body. A computer can then turn all the X-ray images into 3D images. As CT scans involve many X-rays, they use higher levels of ionising radiation than other types of medical imaging.

Children and young people and CT scans

CT is a valuable diagnostic tool that is of benefit in a wide range of clinical situations. However, the higher level of ionising radiation used in CT compared to other types of imaging, and their use in childhood or adolescence, has been linked to a slight increase in developing cancer later in life.

It is important to ensure that CT scans are undertaken for time-critical conditions and when there are evidence-based protocols for a particular disease or certain conditions (such as, serious head trauma). However, children and young people are more sensitive to ionising radiation as their bodies are still developing. This means that appropriate consideration needs to be given to whether:

  • a CT scan now will improve the child’s health care
  • previous scans are available that could provide the information needed
  • there are other imaging options that could be used
  • a necessary CT scan be done using a ‘kid-sized’ radiation dose
  • the benefits and risks have been explained to the parents or carers.

The following pages provide access to information for parents and carers, professionals who refer children for CT scans, providers of medical imaging services and oral healthcare professionals.

Father and son reading about CT scans

CT scans - information for parents and carers

Providing parents and carers with information about CT scans.

Doctor discussing CT scans with a parent and child

CT scans - information for referrers

Provides doctors requesting CT scans with information regarding CT related radiation in children and young people.

CT scan radiographers and medical imaging providers

CT scans - information for radiographers and medical imaging providers

Information to support medical imaging services undertaking specialised scanning on children and young people.

CT cone beam scan

CT scans - information for dental practitioners and their patients

Information supporting dental healthcare professionals to talk with parents and carers about CT scans.

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