Helical CT of the body: are settings adjusted for pediatric patients?

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2001 Feb;176(2):297-301. doi: 10.2214/ajr.176.2.1760297.


Objective: Our objective was to determine whether adjustments related to patient age are made in the scanning parameters that are determinants of radiation dose for helical CT of pediatric patients.

Subjects and methods: This prospective investigation included all body (chest and abdomen) helical CT examinations (n = 58) of neonates, infants, and children (n = 32) referred from outside institutions for whom radiologic consultation was requested. Information recorded included tube current, kilovoltage, collimation, and pitch. Examinations were arbitrarily grouped on the basis of the individual's age: group A, 0-4 years; group B, 5-8 years; group C, 9-12 years; and group D, 13-16 years old.

Results: Thirty-one percent (18/58) of the CT examinations were of the chest and 69% (40/58) were of the abdomen. Sixteen percent (9/58) of the CT examinations were combined chest and abdomen. In 22% (2/9) of these combined examinations, tube current was adjusted between the chest and abdomen CT; in one (11%) of these examinations, the tube current was higher for the chest than for the abdomen portion of the CT examination. The mean tube current setting for chest was 213 mA and was 206 mA for the abdomen, with no evident adjustment in tube current based on the age of the patient. Fifty-six percent of the examinations of neonates, infants, or children 8 years old or younger were performed at a collimation of greater than 5 mm and 53% of these examinations were performed using a pitch of 1.0.

Conclusion: Pediatric helical CT parameters are not adjusted on the basis of the examination type or the age of the child. In particular, these results suggest that pediatric patients may be exposed to an unnecessarily high radiation dose during body CT.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radiography, Abdominal
  • Radiography, Thoracic
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / standards*