Am I Crazy to Be Concerned About 4 Year Old Getting 2 Ct Scans in One Day?

Updated on July 12, 2017
R.E. asks from Arvada, CO
10 answers

Doctor insisted my 4 year old child be given two ct scans in one appointment. Scans turned out normal. I'm concerned about future cancer risk. Is this a valid concern or am I nuts? If my child did not have ct scans that would have been okay. I wasn't given the choice. Anyone else concerned about more than one ct scan in a child? Also, anyone on this board have 2 or more ct scans before age 5 and doing well as an adult? Thank you for any support and insight!

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So What Happened?

What were the CTs for? minor car accident. WHERE did they focus the CT? head and spine. What do you mean, you weren't given the choice? child sent to er w/o me.

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answers from Philadelphia on

A doctor would only do this if he thought the benefit outweighed the risk. Be grateful they found nothing. Seriously, would you have actually said no to the scans even if you had been there or would you have followed the doctor's recommendation?

7 moms found this helpful

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answers from Dallas on

Your child was in a car accident and had potential injury. Wouldn't you rather know that there are no concerns as far as broken bones, bleed out, etc than worry about 20 years from now?

If they didn't wait for you to get to the er to sign consent forms then I'd think they had a darn good reason for moving so quickly in order to make sure your child is ok.

I'd be thanking the Dr's for going above and beyond to check him out and then be thankful that he was spared injury.

It's not like he's getting routine CT scans for no reason.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

I truly think your concern should be "If there is anything at all wrong I want them to do what they need to do to find it" so your child doesn't end up paralyzed or brain dead because the docs didn't do the tests they needed to do because you were too afraid.

Please check your priorities. Thank GOD they came back fine. Maybe the doc needed the second one because it wasn't quite right, maybe he thought he saw something and wanted another to be sure. I'm very confident the doc didn't just say "Hey, let's run a bunch of un=needed scans on this kid since his mother isn't here to say no".

Your son is okay? Be thankful instead of finding fault with the ER docs who checked him out completely so they could say he was fine and mean it.

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answers from Springfield on

Two CT Scans is really not that big a deal. I understand that you are concerned about the radiation, and we hear about radiation causing cancer. A CT Scan is much, much safer than an x-ray.

Any time a doctor suggests an x-ray or a CT Scan or anything like that, he/she is already weighing the benefit against any potential harm. If the doctor ordered these of your daughter's head and spine, he/she must have determined that there was a risk that she had sustained an injury. What if she had? An undetected head injury could cause brain damage. A undetected spinal injury could lead to paralyses. Those are not risks I would have been willing to take.

Unless your daughter has a chronic illness or condition that requires her to have multiple CT Scans each year, I wouldn't worry about it. She's not being exposed to dangerous levels.

I honestly look at x-rays, CT Scans and MRI's as amazing and valuable parts of modern medicine. I've had numerous kidney stones and 2 c-sections, and without modern medicine I believe I would probably be dead.

Your daughter is safe, and you know for a fact that she did not sustain any injuries. Thank goodness the doctor had those tests available to give you that peace of mind.

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answers from Portland on

I am guessing the second one was ordered to cover the rest of the spine - in which case, it was done to be thorough. I've had Cat scans that covered my head, neck and upper spine. That's just the top of it - so if they were concerned she had injured the middle or lower spine, they would have performed two. That's just my experience.

My friend had a malformation of her skull and needed endless operations as a child. She went on to do her masters. Super bright lady and no adverse affects - I'm sure she had many scans as a child.

My personal advice to you would be - it's done, be thankful she's alright, and had they missed anything, you'd be far more upset.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

20 ct scans or more - yes - worry.
2 ct scans - no - don't worry.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

ETA after your additional info:

You should have included this in your original question.

Abdominal CTs are the ones that people are concerned about causing cancer. Head and spine, if the CTs were not all the way down the spine, are not so much to worry about. It's really about how many are done over a lifetime.

If your child would have had a brain injury or a spinal injury, would you be fussing about them having been taken? Just because your child was okay doesn't mean there wasn't a reason to do the scans. How would you know your child is okay if they hadn't done the tests?

Of course your child's future health is very important, but wouldn't you rather make sure that your child is okay NOW? Rather than worry about cancer years from now?

Give us more information. What were the CTs for? WHERE did they focus the CT? What do you mean, you weren't given the choice? You said that it would have been okay if your child had not had the scans done. You had to sign for them, so you DID have a choice.

Your post isn't making sense.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Here's a helpful article on some of the reasons why so many scans are done (fear of lawsuits, desire for profits, doctors unaware...). It might not be appropriate for the "cancer scare" side of things to compare with, say, survivors of the atomic bomb blasts in Japan though.

It also references an article from the JAMA Pediatrics in 2013.

You have to weigh this against a child without a parent (since your SWH says he was taken to ER without me) who was in a car accident. Head injuries are extremely serious, as are spinal and organ injuries, and letting something go could be far more devastating than the test.

You also don't know the expertise of those administering the scan or the age of the equipment. Those might be important factors.

The big risk seems to be in repeated scans over the span of childhood or even a lifetime. If he's had 2, you can be aware of future requests and make sure the tests are absolutely necessary. You can also do other things to reduce the chances of cancer from other causes. With all we know and are still learning about epigenetic factors, there are many healthy choices to make that go far beyond just diet or other issues. So look at the big picture.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Your child was involved in auto accident. To be sure he/she wasn't injured, the hospital performed 2 CT scans. Head and spine. First, thank goodness your kiddo is okay. BUT I am confused. Your kiddo is not having CT scans everyday. So this really is a non issue. Don't go looking for drama that isn't there.

My daughter had many CT scans prior to starting elementary school. She is now 28 years old, a very bright college graduate and very successful in her career.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

My son is 18, just graduated high school. He fell when he was about 13 months old and hit his head on the bathroom tile floor. Because he could have had internal bleeding, they did a CT scan and then another half hour later. Everything turned out fine. He is headed to college in another month. I would not worry about 2 ct scans. The risk of exposure is very low.

1 mom found this helpful
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