An analysis of computed tomography-related radiation exposure in pediatric trauma patients

Michael Hrdy, Mahadevappa Mahesh, Marlene Miller, Bruce Klein, Dylan Stewart, Leticia Manning Ryan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective To compare radiation doses used for pediatric computed tomography (CT) scans at community-based referring facilities (RF) to those at a designated pediatric trauma center (PTC) to assess the consistency of radiation exposure. Methods In this retrospective study, patients 0 to 18 years of age with CT imaging performed either at a RF or at a PTC from January 1, 2015, to January 5, 2016, were identified. Data about patients, CT radiation dose, and characteristics of the RFs were compared. Results We identified 502 patients (156 RF, 346 PTC) with 281 head CTs (79 RF, 202 PTC) and 86 abdominal/pelvis CTs (28 RF, 58 PTC). The radiation dose (measured in mean dose-length product [DLP] ± 1 standard deviation) was significantly higher for RF scans compared with PTC scans (head, RF DLP = 545 ± 334 vs PTC DLP = 438 ± 186 (P < 0.001); abdomen/pelvis, RF DLP = 279 ± 160 vs PTC DLP = 181 ± 201 [P = 0.027]). There was a nonsignificant trend toward lower head CT radiation dosages at RFs with a dedicated pediatric emergency department compared with RFs without a pediatric emergency department. Conclusions Our data suggest that CT scans performed at RFs expose pediatric patients to significantly higher doses of radiation when compared with a PTC. These data support further study to identify factors associated with increased radiation and educational outreach to RFs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)296-302
Number of pages7
JournalPediatric emergency care
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2021


  • Pediatric trauma
  • Radiation reduction
  • Radiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Emergency Medicine


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