Monday, July 8, 2013

Study examines parental understanding of potential CT risks

In a survey of over 700 parents whose children were treated in a pediatric emergency department with a head injury, 47% reported being aware of the potential increased lifetime cancer risk associated with head CT scans. After this risk was disclosed, parents' willingness to proceed with the test was reduced, presenting a significant barrier for a small minority. The findings were recently published online in Pediatrics.

"When it's time to make a decision,
parents still trust CT scans."

Dushyant Sahani, MD
Director of CT

At the start of the survey, 90% of parents said they would be "very willing" or "willing" to go ahead with a CT test if the doctor thought it was necessary. After being informed about potential cancer risks, the number dropped to 70% with 6% (42 parents) saying they would refuse the test. Among these 42 parents, eight had children for whom a CT scan was later recommended, and all of these children proceeded with the test.

"It's significant that all the kids whose parents said they would refuse a CT scan after hearing about cancer risk eventually ended up getting one if it was recommended," said Dushyant Sahani, MD, director of CT at Mass General Imaging. "When it's time to make a decision, parents still trust CT scans and understand that the short-term benefits outweigh a very small long-term risk."

The study also found that 90% of parents wanted to be informed of potential cancer risks before proceeding with imaging.

Read coverage of the study in Reuters Health.

Learn ways in which Mass General Imaging reduces radiation exposure, including using radiation-free alternatives such as MRI and ultrasound when clinically appropriate.

Back to Top