Wednesday, February 6, 2013

How do doctors weigh the risks and benefits of diagnostic tests? Sometimes it's harder than you might think. 

Take CT scans, which deliver known doses of radiation to patients. Add kids, for whom radiation risks are higher -- in part because of their smaller developing bodies and because there's more time ahead to see effects of radiation. Now consider a CT scan for a child with severe and chronic sinusitis. A kid who has come to a specialist after having tried other diagnostics and treatments for their condition. A CT scan has the potential to reveal definitively -- more than any other test -- what's going on. 

I wrote about the risk data and the benefits in practice of using CT scans in kids for ENT Today.

The doses are small, but they do add up. As one ENT doctor told me: “I don’t think much about one CT scan. But I do think about two CT scans.”

Photo credit: thesmokingsection on Flickr

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