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J Surg Res. 2013 Apr;180(2):226-31. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2012.04.020. Epub 2012 Apr 28.

Computed tomography scanning in pediatric trauma: opportunities for performance improvement and radiation safety.

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  • 1Department of Pediatric Surgical Services, Women & Children's Hospital of Buffalo, Buffalo, New York.



Recently, pediatric CT scanning protocols have reduced radiation exposure in children. Because evaluation with CT scan after trauma contributes to significant radiation exposure, we reviewed the CT scans in children at both initial presentation at a non-pediatric facility and subsequent transfer to a level I pediatric trauma center (PTC) to determine the number of scans, body area scanned, radiation dosage, and proportion of scans at each facility.


The trauma database was retrospectively reviewed for children aged 0 to 17 y initially evaluated for trauma at another facility and then transferred to our PTC for pediatric specialty care between January 2000 and December 2010.


A total of 1562 patients with 1335 CT scans were reviewed over an 11-y period. The majority of CT scans occur at the referring facility compared to the PTC in a ratio of 7:3. CT of the head was the most frequent scan obtained (52%), and 17.9% of CT scans were repeated at the PTC. Less than 1% of CT scans performed at the non-pediatric centers contained radiation dosage information, precluding analysis of radiation exposure.


The majority of CT scans for trauma occur at non-pediatric facilities, which demonstrates the need for referring facilities to perform optimal CT scans with the least amount of radiation exposure to the child. We believe this provides an opportunity for PTC performance improvement by facilitating the transfer of images and educating referring facilities about indications for CT scans, dosage amounts, and radiation reduction protocols.

Published by Elsevier Inc.

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