Variation in pediatric cervical spine computed tomography radiation dose index

Jennifer R. Marin, Debapriya Sengupta, Mythreyi Bhargavan-Chatfield, Kalpana M. Kanal, Angela M. Mills, Kimberly E. Applegate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Objectives The objective was to evaluate variation in the current estimated radiation dose index for pediatric cervical spine (c-spine) computed tomography (CT) examinations. Methods This was a retrospective analysis of pediatric (age younger than 19 years) c-spine CT examinations from the American College of Radiology Dose Index Registry, July 2011 through December 2014. We used the volume CT dose index (CTDIvol) as the radiation dose estimate and used summary statistics to describe patient and hospital characteristics. Results There were 12,218 pediatric CT c-spine examinations performed across 296 participating hospitals. Fifty-six percent were in male patients, and 79% were in children older than 10 years. Most hospitals (55%) were community hospitals without trauma designations, and the largest proportion of examinations (41%) were performed at these hospitals. The median CTDIvol was 15 mGy (interquartile range = 9 to 23 mGy) representing a more than 2.5-fold difference between the 25th and 75th percentiles. Pediatric hospitals (both trauma and nontrauma centers) delivered the lowest CTDIvol across all age groups and showed the least amount of variability in dose. Conclusions There is significant variation in the radiation dose index for pediatric c-spine CT examinations. Pediatric hospitals practice at lower CT dose estimates than other hospitals. Individual hospitals should examine their practices in an effort to ensure standardization and optimization of CT parameters to minimize radiation exposures to pediatric patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1499-1505
Number of pages7
JournalAcademic Emergency Medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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