The Computed Tomography (CT or CAT) scan has been a screening tool used by healthcare professionals since the 1960s. It allows doctors to see a patient’s internal problems without using invasive procedures. However, ionic radiation from these CT scans has the potential to harm the patient.
In 2009, about 75 million CT scans were performed in the United States alone. However, people started to question the benefits of screening procedures considering their possibility to cause cancer. In 2010, the FDA pointed out two key components in trying to reduce unnecessary radiation when undergoing a CT scan: justification and dose optimization. The FDA wanted to ensure that people would only get a CT scan when needed, and manufacturers and those who performed the procedures should reduce the amount of radiation patients experience to “as low as reasonably achievable.” The question then arises to whether CT scans should be used in healthy patients.
Should CT scans be used in healthy individuals as a disease prevention tool?
CT scans should not be used in healthy individuals if one of the following are met:
1. The scan’s risks outweigh the benefits
2. CT scans are not effective in diagnosing hidden diseases
The FDA states that risks of CT scans include: minimal cancer risk, possible allergic reactions, kidney failure due to contrast usage, and in some circumstances erythema, tissue damage, hair loss, cataracts, and some potential birth defects. The benefits of a CT scan, according to the FDA and medical professionals, are almost none since CT scans are mainly a tool for screening and not diagnosing. Thus, undergoing a CT scan has no potential benefit in healthy patients. Trials have been completed as well stating that there is no clinical benefit in those who do not have symptoms.
The risks of a CT scan outweigh the benefits in a patient who is healthy and non-symptomatic. Therefore, they should not be used in healthy individuals; only patients who show symptoms should undergo a CT scan.
For more information on this issue, contact the Kulkarni Law Firm.