I’ve attended to more than one paediatric fall where parents or guardians have an expectation that their charge will be taken “for a scan” upon arrival at hospital (as seen on TV*).
The same parents or guardians are subsequently reassured if you are able to explain that this might not happen, unless there is a very very good reason to do so, given that emergency physicians try to avoid exposing kids to radiation unnecessarily.
But how much radiation are we talking, and what are the risks ?
Here’s a great post from Robert Cloutier at Academic Life in Emergency Medicine (ALiEM) which steps you through the radiation numbers and projected risks;
I think it’s good to know that a single CT can the the equivalent of hundreds of plain film X-ray images.
For some more detail on dosing in the adult population, you’ll find a handy summary table here;
*Television has a lot to answer for..