New Technology at St. Louis Children’s Hospital Limits Radiation Exposure for Patients
New FLASH CT scanner reduces radiation exposure by up to 75 percent
April 26, 2012 – St. Louis – St. Louis Children’s Hospital is the first pediatric hospital in Missouri to acquire new FLASH CT scanner technology that will make scans safer for even the smallest of patients.
The number of CT scans performed on children has increased five-fold over the last 15 years. Ninety percent of those scans were performed at non-pediatric hospitals, often exposing children to unnecessary radiation.
“Children’s hospitals are well aware of the dangers inherent to medical radiation,” says Dr. Robert McKinstry, Chief of Radiology at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “With that in mind, we make ultrasound and MRI more available, and follow guidelines to limit the number of CT scans that are performed when they wouldn’t be otherwise indicated.”
While nationwide the statistics show an upward trend in the volume of CT scans performed on pediatric patients, the number of CT scans ordered at Children’s has decreased by half since 2005.
The FLASH CT, expected to be available to patients by mid-summer, helps ensure the hospital’s radiology team acquires a high image quality scan while minimizing the amount of radiation exposure for the child. Children, whose cells, organs and tissues are still developing, are more susceptible to the dangers of radiation. St. Louis Children’s Hospital has long manually customized the dosage of CT scans for patients, cutting dosage by about half and thereby minimizing a child’s risk.
FLASH will require far fewer manual dosing steps, and further improve patient care by automatically adjusting the dosage to fit the size and needs of each individual patient. Studies show the technology cuts the amount of radiation emitted by a standard CT scanner by 75%. Additionally, it will virtually eliminate the need to sedate a child because of the speed at which it captures images. Faster scans mean that children need to remain still for far less time, reducing prep time and anxiety, and improving their experience.
According to Dr. McKinstry, “The dosing protocol for a pediatric patient is much different than that of an adult patient. A child should never be exposed to the amount of radiation we would consider appropriate for an adult patient. This is another important step for us to ensure all of our patients receive the lowest possible dose, in the safest environment of care.”
About CT Scans:
While an X-ray can provide a great deal of diagnostic information, a CT scan offers far greater detail about internal organs and other structures. A CT uses X-rays to take cross-section pictures of the inside of the body in “slices”. The slices are then reconstructed into an image. That level of detail can significantly advance a child’s medical treatment. However, clinicians must weigh the diagnostic benefit of CT against the risk posed by radiation exposure.
- A typical adult chest CT emits approximately 175-times-greater the dose of radiation as a routine chest X-ray.
- Using Flash CT technology, a pediatric CT scan performed at St. Louis Children’s Hospital is comparable to only 44 X-rays (75% less than a standard adult CT).
- No other center in the region offers pediatric scans at such a significantly reduced dose.
- The number of CT scans performed on children has increased five-fold over the last 15 years.
- 90% of CT scans are performed at non-pediatric hospitals.
- Since 2005, the number of CT scans performed at St. Louis Children’s Hospital has decreased by half.
About St. Louis Children’s Hospital
Founded in 1879, St. Louis Children's Hospital is one of the premier children's hospitals in the United States. It serves not just the children of St. Louis, but children across the world. The hospital provides a full range of pediatric services to the St. Louis metropolitan area and a primary service region covering six states. The hospital has been recognized by USNews and World Report as one of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals, most recently on the USNews Honor Roll in 2011. As the pediatric teaching hospital for Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis Children's Hospital offers nationally recognized programs for physician training and research. For more information, visit StLouisChildrens.org, or follow us on Facebook and @STLChildrens on Twitter.