Noncontrast head CT in children: National variation in radiation dose indices in the United States
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Radiologists should manage the radiation dose for pediatric patients to maintain reasonable diagnostic confidence. We assessed the variation in estimated radiation dose indices for pediatric noncontrast head CT in the United States. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Radiation dose indices for single-phase noncontrast head CT examinations in patients 18 years of age and younger were retrospectively reviewed between July 2011 and June 2016 using the American College of Radiology CT Dose Index Registry. We used the reported volume CT dose index stratified by patient demographics and imaging facility characteristics. RESULTS: The registry included 295,296 single-phase pediatric noncontrast head CT studies from 1571 facilities (56% in male patients and 53% in children older than 10 years of age). The median volume CT dose index was 33 mGy (interquartile range 22- 47 mGy). The volume CT dose index increased as age increased. The volume CT dose index was lower in children's hospitals (median, 26 mGy) versus academic hospitals (median, 32 mGy) and community hospitals (median, 40 mGy). There was a lower volume CT dose index in level I and II trauma centers (median, 27 and 32 mGy, respectively) versus nontrauma centers (median, 40 mGy) and facilities in metropolitan locations (median, 30 mGy) versus those in suburban and rural locations (median, 41 mGy). CONCLUSIONS: Considerable variation in the radiation dose index for pediatric head CT exists. Median dose indices and practice variations at pediatric facilities were both lower compared with other practice settings. Decreasing dose variability through proper management of CT parameters in pediatric populations using benchmarks generated by data from registries can potentially decrease population exposure to ionizing radiation.
Sadigh, G; Kadom, N; Karthik, P; Sengupta, D; Strauss, KJ; Frush, D; Applegate, KE
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