MRI scan

Radiation free scan could protect child patients from secondary cancer

By: Information Daily Staff Writer
Published: Wednesday, February 19, 2014 - 16:06 GMT Jump to Comments

A form of MRI scan could be a safer alternative to F-FDG PET/CT scans which do not expose child patients to dangerously high ionising radiation levels, a study has said.

CT and radiotracer-based imaging techniques expose the human body to ionising radiation, leading to a substantially higher risk of contracting secondary cancer in later life.

Researchers from the Department of Radiology Molecular Imaging Program at Stanford compared outcomes of these scans with whole-body diffusion-weighted MRI outcomes in children with malignant lymphomas and sarcomas.

Published in The Lancet, it was found that patients who underwent a CT scan were exposed to a mean of 12·5 sieverts (mSv), compared to zero for the MRI scan group.

Exposure to radiation at this level as a child is highly carcinogenic, associated with a tripling of lifetime cancer risk.

The scanning types detected 163 and 158 out of 174 malignant legions respectively, a statistically similar result. CT scans were slightly more sensitive, at 93.7 per cent compared to 90.8 per cent. 

The MRI scans, however, which used the iron supplement ferumoxytol as a contrast agent, delivered no adverse side affects after treatment. 

The researchers hope that the imaging test may be found to prevent long-term side effects normally associated with scans.

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