Children who are screened by CT scans of the brain may have a higher risk of developing cancer and leukemia when they are adults, although this possibility is small, warns a new study.
The space that surrounds us is full of waves invisible to the human eye, but that perform different functions in the environment, from light and sound to those that allow radio, television and cell phone communications.
Sometimes, these waves can act on the body, either to heal it or make it sick, and others are used in studies to detect health problems. This is what happens with X-rays, which are used to take x-rays or CT scans.
X-rays are used to look at bones (and see, for example, if they are broken or broken), to detect problems in the lungs and abdomen, tooth decay, and other conditions. CT scans, on the other hand, use special X-ray equipment and powerful computers to create cross-sectional images of the body (obtaining very detailed and precise images of the area as if slicing bread), looking for fractured bones, cancer, blood clots, blood, signs of heart disease and internal bleeding, among others.
The story tells that at the beginning, when X-rays were discovered, people found them so entertaining that they played with them: they were placed in amusement parks, so that whoever was curious could see their bones live and in direct.
Over time it has proven to be very dangerous, since X-rays increase the chances of people developing cancer. That’s why you only have to use them in cases where there really is no other alternative to detect possible diseases or health problems.
In search of more information on this topic, a team of researchers in Canada and the United States analyzed the effect of CT scans on the brain when they are practiced on children.
For that, they considered the data of around 180 thousand British patients under 22 who had undergone a CT scan between 1985 and 2002, and they observed them until 2008. They took into account how many cases of leukemia and brain tumors were diagnosed. presented, how many studies had been done and what was the dose of radiation absorbed by the brain and bone marrow.
They found that children who have CT scans of their heads may increase their risk of developing brain cancer and leukemia later in life, especially if these studies are done before they are 10 years old.
Anyway, they clarify that the risk is still very low and that CT scans should be practiced selectively in children, only when there is no better method to detect the problem.
According to the researchers of this study that appears in the online edition of The Lancetmagazine on June 7 , children are more sensitive to radiation than adults and parents can take some measures to help limit the risk, if a doctor requests a CT scan in the case of your child.
For example, they can ask the doctor if the procedure is absolutely necessary or if there is a different test that can provide the same information without radiation, such as an ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
You can also ask the specialist how the study will improve your child’s care, if the center where the study will be done is accredited by the American College of Radiology (or by the Medical College of your country) and if the doses of radiation that will be used They are appropriate for someone of the child’s age.
And in case the child studies by computerized tomography, it is important to take note of the tests received and the levels of radiation used, so they can show them to other doctors, if the child is seen in different health centers .
Remember: the benefit of using certain tests is often much greater than the risk involved. In the case of brain scans with children, the recommendation is to use the lowest possible dose of radiation and use CT scans only when they are absolutely necessary from the medical point of view.