Review of radiation risks from computed tomography: essentials for the pediatric surgeon

J Pediatr Surg. 2007 Apr;42(4):603-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2006.12.009.


Background/purpose: Over the past several years, increasing attention has been focused on the potential for radiation exposure from computed tomography (CT) for inducing the development of cancers. An understanding of these issues is important for the practice of pediatric surgery.

Methods: Medline based clinical review of current medical literature of the risks for the induction of cancers by CT. Data includes estimates of cancer risk from computer models, epidemiologic data from survivors of atomic bomb radiation exposure, and consensus opinions from expert panels.

Results: Review of scientific evidence demonstrates varied opinions, but consensus suggests there may be a potential for an increased risk of cancer from low level radiation exposure such as from CT. These calculations suggest that there may be as high as 1 fatal cancer for every 1000 CT scans performed in a young child.

Conclusions: Pediatric surgeons should be aware of the potential risks of CT. Minimizing the radiation risks of CT is a complex endeavor, and will require investments from pediatric surgeons as well as pediatric radiologists.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • General Surgery
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / etiology*
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / prevention & control
  • Pediatrics
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Risk Factors
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / adverse effects*