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The CT Scan Is No More Accurate than Ultrasound to Detect Kidney Stones

According to a clinical study conducted at fifteen medical centers in order to diagnose the painful kidney stones in a hospital’s emergency room, the CT scans are no better than less-often-used than the ultrasound exams.

Unlike the ultrasound, CT exposes the patients to significant amounts of the radiation. Although the CT scans used to be favored by the emergency-room physicians for a kidney stone diagnosis, but nowadays, the ultrasound should is used as the first step by the Radiologists.The patients in the study, who were first examined with the ultrasound sometimes received a follow-up CT exam at the physician’s discretion.

The results do not suggest that the patients should undergo only the ultrasound imaging, but rather that the ultra-sonography should be used as the initial diagnostic imaging test, further with the imaging studies performed at discretion of physician on the basis of the clinical judgment.

The Rising Rates of the Kidney Stones;
The kidney stone rates are increasing, and after the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, conducted in 2010, one in 11 people are reported having at least one kidney stone. The use of Ultrasound and CT to diagnose the kidney stones has risen 10-fold in last 15 years.

The Study
The Researchers conducted a randomized comparative effectiveness trial of data received from 15 medical center emergency departments with patients who came in exhibiting kidney stone-like symptoms. Patients of the age 18 to 75 years were randomly assigned either an ultrasound or a CT scan as the initial diagnostic test. A subsequent medical management, including receipt of the additional imaging, was performed at the discretion of the physicians. The incidence of the serious adverse events was diagnosed within thirty days. The cumulative radiation exposure and imaging costs during the subsequent six months were compared. The secondary outcomes, included pain and the return emergency room visits and the hospitalizations were also measured.

The Results showed that the average cumulative radiation exposures were significantly higher for those who received CT scan compared to those who received an ultrasound.

Secondly, the average imaging costs were higher for those patients who received a CT scan than those who received an ultrasound.
Investigators concluded that the use of the ultrasound as part of the initial evaluation of the patients with suspected kidney stones was associated with the lower cumulative radiation exposure and imaging costs than that of the CT scans.

CT Scan not for Pregnant women and children;
CT scans are not usually recommended for pregnant women because there’s a small risk that the X-rays may harm the unborn child. Before having a scan, tell the doctor if there’s a chance you may be pregnant.

Children are at greater risk from a build-up of radiation than adults. They should have a CT scan, only if, it is justified by a serious condition that risks their health.

The studies have confirmed that the CT scans exposed patients to much more radiation than an ultrasound, potentially raising cancer risk.

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