Computed tomography use in a large Italian region: trend analysis 2004-2014 of emergency and outpatient CT examinations in children and adults

Andrea Pola, Daniela Corbella, Andrea Righini, Alberto Torresin, Paola E. Colombo, Luigi Vismara, Luca Trombetta, Michele Maddalo, Maria Vittoria Introini, Daniela Tinelli, Laura Strohmenger, Giovanna Garattini, Angelica Munari, Fabio Triulzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: To analyse CT use in recent years in a high-density Italian area (±10 million inhabitants, including 1 million children), focusing on developing age. Methods: Retrospective analysis of records from HealthCare IT System, covering >400 hospitals and clinics. Description of CT use between 2004–2014 in emergency and outpatient care and assessment of radiation exposure trend. Results: Over 9 million scans were performed. Emergency procedures showed a global increase of 230 %, mainly head examinations. In the global outpatient setting, the annual number of CT scans/person increased ±19 %. A moderate increase in CT examinations was observed in the developing age population, while a remarkable increase in dental, chest and abdominal procedures occurred for the 10- to 30-year age range. The increase in mean annual dose/capita in the global patient pool was approximately 42 %, increasing from 0.72–1.03 mSv. The population rate receiving an annual CT radiation dose/capita higher than 1 mSv tripled in the 11-year interval, increasing from 16–48 %. Conclusions: The remarkable increase in radiation exposure raises a special concern for teenagers and young adults, whose risk tends to be underestimated. The fivefold increase in dental CTs in the younger age groups requires further investigations. Key Points: • Literature highlights a remarkable increase in CT use over the last decades.• The paediatric age had higher exposure to X-ray risk.• A detailed retrospective analysis of more than 9 million scans was performed.• Dental, chest, abdominal procedures increased remarkably in 10- to 30-year age range.• This study raises concern about exposure for teenagers and young adults.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2308-2318
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Radiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Computed tomography
  • Paediatric exposure
  • Patient dose
  • Radiation protection
  • Regional survey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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