Overuse of CT and MRI in paediatric emergency departments

Orly Ohana, Shelly Soffer, Eyal Zimlichman, Eyal Klang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


The aim of this review is to survey CT and MRI overuse in the paediatric emergency department (ED) population. CT is one of the most important modalities employed in the ED. Not surprisingly, its high accuracy, rapid acquisition and availability have resulted in overuse. An obvious limitation of CT is ionizing radiation; in addition there are economic implications to overuse. Studies from the last two decades have shown increase in paediatric ED CT utilization in the first decade, reaching a plateau forming around 2008, followed by a decrease in the last decade. This decrease occurred in conjunction with campaigns raising awareness to the risks of radiation exposure. Although a trend of decrease in overuse have been observed, great variability has been shown across different facilities, as well as among physicians, with more pronounced overuse in non-teaching and non-children dedicated EDs. The leading types of paediatric ED CTs are head and abdominal scans. Decision rules, such as PECARN for head injury and the Alvarado score for abdominal pain, as well as using alternative imaging modalities, have been shown to reduce CT overuse in these two categories. MRI has the obvious benefit of avoiding radiation exposure, but the disadvantages of higher costs, less availability and less tolerability in younger children. Although anecdotally paediatric ED MRI usage has increased in recent years, only scarce reports have been published. In our opinion, there is need to conduct up-to-date studies covering paediatric CT and MRI overuse trends, usage variability and adherence to clinical protocols.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20170434
JournalBritish Journal of Radiology
Issue number1085
StatePublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


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