Too many children are receiving unnecessary x-rays for symptoms such as vomiting, feeling ill and fainting says a new study from the Mayo Clinic.
"Chest X-rays can be a valuable exam when ordered for the correct indications. However, there are several indications where pediatric chest X-rays offer no benefit and likely should not be performed to decrease radiation dose and cost," said study author Dr. Ann Packard, a radiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
Researchers looked at the reasoning behind 637 chest x-rays given to children from newborns to 17 years- old between 2008 and 2014. They found that 88 percent of the x-rays given to children did not have an impact on treatment they receive.
What kinds of symptoms were children displaying when they were given an x-ray? Kids and infants had chest pain, fainting, dizziness, cyclical vomiting, and a general feeling of being unwell or under distress (spells). Another problem stated was a condition called "postural orthostatic hypotension," in which blood pressure drops suddenly when a person stands up after sitting or lying down.
X-rays are often given when a physician suspects someone may have pneumonia or a bronchial infection.
Thirty-nine of the x-rays for chest pain were positive for pneumonia, bronchial inflammation, trauma or other conditions, according to the findings scheduled for presentation in Chicago Wednesday at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America. But chest X-rays had no effect on treatment for any of the children with fainting, postural orthostatic hypotension, dizziness, spells or cyclical vomiting.
Radiation in children is a concern. Many pediatricians and experts recommend limiting the exposure to radiation in children when possible. These procedures can also be expensive for families.
"This study addresses both of these issues, which is important not only for physicians but also for young patients and their parents," Packard noted in a society news release.
"I would like this research to help guide clinicians and deter them from ordering unnecessary exams which offer no clinical benefit to the patient," she added.
Research presented at meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
If a doctor recommends x-rays for your child, be sure and ask specifically why they believe the x-ray is needed and what impact they believe it will have on your child’s treatment.
Possible broken bones need x-rays, trouble breathing could need an x-ray to look for infection or pneumonia. Your doctor may have a perfectly sound reason for ordering an x-ray, but you may want to know ahead of time exactly what it will tell your physician before agreeing.
Source: Robert Preidt, http://www.webmd.com/children/news/20141203/many-kids-exposed-to-unneeded-x-rays-study-finds