Evaluation of radiation exposure to pediatric trauma patients

Bryan Tepper, Jane H. Brice, Cherri D. Hobgood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background: Pediatric trauma patients pose a diagnostic challenge to physicians. Computed tomography (CT) imaging identifies life-threatening injuries quickly and efficiently. CT radiation dose in pediatric trauma patients is a concern. Study Objectives: We evaluated the cumulative effective dose of radiation received by pediatric blunt trauma patients and assessed characteristics of patients and studies received. Methods: We retrospectively identified pediatric blunt trauma patients at a Level I trauma center between January 1 and December 31, 2006 utilizing the North Carolina Trauma Registry. We searched the patient radiographic history for images in the 7 days after their trauma event. We calculated cumulative effective radiation dose using dose length product and age coefficients. We collected demographic information including age, sex, mechanism of injury, hospital length of stay, and discharge status. Results: Seventy-five pediatric blunt trauma patients with available radiographic records were included. The median age was 11.7 years; males comprised 64% of patients; median Injury Severity Score was 13.8; 64% were transfer patients; median number of CT scans during initial evaluation was 3.4 for directly seen patients and two for transferred patients. Mean effective ionizing radiation dose was 11.4 mSv for CT scans performed in the first 24 h. Sixteen percent of admitted patients had CT scans in the subsequent 6 days, with an average additional CT dose of 4 mSv. Average number of plain radiographs was five. Conclusions: Pediatric blunt trauma patients receive a major radiation burden in their initial evaluation. Patients who are transferred from an outside facility endure an even higher dose of radiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)646-652
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Emergency Medicine


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