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Dr. Marta Hernanz-Schulman, a pediatric radiologist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said the study trends "are very believable" and illustrate the need to make sure imaging scans aren't used inappropriately in children.
She is a founder of the Image Gently campaign, started in 2008 by an alliance of doctors seeking to raise awareness about ways to reduce children's exposure to medical radiation.
Larson said there are signs CT scan use in kids may have started decreasing since the study ended.
Dr. Steven Krug, emergency department chief at Chicago's Children's Memorial Hospital, said many institutions including his own have started using ultrasound to diagnose appendicitis in some kids with abdominal pain. Ultrasound images aren't as detailed as CT images, and children with uncertain results will still need CT scans, but he said the trend may help limit radiation exposure.
At Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana, Ill., about 20 percent of the ER patients are children, said Dr. Mike Swindle, emergency department chief. Procedures call for adjusting CT scan radiation doses to children's size and weight, he said.
"We've all become a bit more conservative with ordering" CT scans, Swindle said.
Parents, too, are becoming more aware and increasingly asking about the risks, instead of demanding a CT scan for every bump on the head, he said.
Image Gently: http://www.imagegently.org/
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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