AUGUST 13, 2012, 2:08 PM
By KATE YANDEL
White children are more likely than black or Hispanic children to be given CT scans when arriving at hospital emergency rooms with minor head trauma, a study has found.
Children with the most troubling symptoms, like changes in mental functioning or signs of skull fracture, received CT scans at relatively high rates regardless of race, the researchers reported. But among children at low risk of trauma, 17 percent of non-Hispanic whites received scans while only 10 percent of black and Hispanic children did.
The study, published this month in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, suggests that white children may be getting unnecessary scans and may be exposed to unnecessary radiation. The study sample included more than 42,000 children who went to emergency rooms from 2004 to 2006.
Doctors cited parental anxiety or request as an important influence in decisions to give scans to low-risk white children.
“Doctors have to make good choices about what tests to do,” said Dr. JoAnne Natale, a professor of pediatrics at the University of California, Davis. “Perhaps there are times we use information that is not directly clinically relevant, and I think we should be conscious of that.”