Severity of Acute Pancreatitis Linked to CT Imaging Use

Patients with severe disease have more computed tomography scans, exposed to more radiation

MONDAY, April 5 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with severe acute pancreatitis have more computed tomography (CT) imaging scans done and consequently have greater radiation exposure than patients with less severe disease, regardless of age, according to research published in the March issue of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

Desiree E. Morgan, M.D., of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and colleagues retrospectively analyzed the utilization of CT imaging on 869 patients with acute pancreatitis (mean age, 50.8 years) from 2001 to 2006. In the cohort, 566 patients had 1,081 abdominopelvic CT scans performed.

The researchers calculated that there was a mean of 1.9 abdominopelvic CT scans per patient, per hospitalization (range, 1 to 12), and a mean of 3.0 CT scans per patient over the entire five-year period (range, 1 to 19). Patients with pancreatitis grades D or E had longer hospitalization and more total CT scans (mean, 4.02 scans) than patients with grades A through C (mean, 2.37), and also had higher total effective radiation doses (mean, 53.5 versus 35 mSv). The researchers found no relationship between dose and patient age.

"Regardless of age, patients with severe acute pancreatitis undergo more abdominopelvic CTs as inpatients and outpatients and are exposed to higher doses of radiation compared with patients with less severe disease. Awareness of CT ordering patterns for patients with acute pancreatitis may aid in the development of alternate imaging strategies to reduce radiation exposure in this population, especially for younger patients," the authors write.

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