Do not perform CT scans in children in the absence of strict clinical indications.

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Topic Area


It is recommended that CT scans are performed exclusively in the presence of clinical features suggesting CT-detectable lung changes.It is also crucial that pediatricians or pneumologists determine the clinical indications to CT, so that the radiologists use the most appropriate protocols with the lowest radiation exposure (ALARA principle – As low as reasonably Possible). The chest CT scan is a fundamental diagnostic test for many respiratory diseases, as it allows to visualize in detail all the thoracic structures and the pulmonary parenchyma. Unfortunately, the CT is burdened by the inevitable exposure to ionizing radiation (corresponding, for a traditional chest CT scan, to about 150 chest radiographs), which, in pediatric age, constitutes a significant biological risk increasing the incidence of many neoplasms. Should CT be necessary, it is recommended to adopt pediatric CT protocols in order to obtain good images with minimal radiation exposure.


1. Papaioannou G et al. Multidetector row CT for imaging the paediatric tracheobronchial tree. Pediatr Radiol 2007 Jun; 37 (6): 515-29.
2. Pearce MS et al. Radiation exposure from CT scans in childhood and subsequent risk of leukaemia and brain tumours: a retrospective cohort study. Lancet 2012 Aug 4; 380 (9840): 499-505.
3. Mathews JD et al. Cancer risk in 680,000 people exposed to computed tomography scans in childhood or adolescence: data linkage study of 11 million Australians. BMJ 2013 May 21; 346: f2360.
4. Macdougall RD et al. Managing radiation dose from thoracic multidetector computed tomography in pediatric patients: background, current issues, and recommendations. Radiol Clin North Am. 2013 Jul; 51 (4): 743-60.

Attention. Please note that these items are provided only for information and are not intended as a substitute for consultation with a clinician. Patients with any specific questions about the items on this list or their individual situation should consult their clinician.