A new study published in Pediatrics says that it might be best for doctors to observe kids with head injuries before ordering an x-ray scan of their head. According to Reuters, the researchers analyzed data on 40,000 kids who went to 25 different emergency rooms with a head injury. The researchers reviewed records for which kids had x-rays or were observed before getting an x-ray versus how many kids actually had a serious head injury.
The researchers concluded that it might be worth waiting to give an x-ray after observing the child to see whether they develop symptoms of a serious brain injury. The researchers feel that it is better to avoid x-rays unless they are completely necessary because no one knows yet whether repeated x-rays in children can lead to cancer when they are older.
Brain injuries can be caused in kids by falls, car accidents, or sports, among other causes. It is very important not to leave a brain injury undiagnosed. If a brain injury remains undiagnosed, it could lead to problems in the child's development and health that would be difficult to treat without knowing of the brain injury. A brain injury requires immediate treatment and rehabilitation in order to help the brain recover as fully as possible.
Because it is dangerous to leave a brain injury undiagnosed and it is potentially dangerous to x-ray a child's head too often, it is not an easy decision as to whether or not to x-ray a child's head. Some x-rays are definitely needed in order to find serious brain injuries, but it should not be automatic.