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CT scan exposure in children with ventriculo-peritoneal shunts: single centre experience and review of the literature.

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Gareth Dobson, Dr Alistair Jenkins, Patrick Mitchell, Christopher CowieORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


A computed tomography (CT) scan in childhood is associated with a greater incidence of brain cancer. CT scans are used in patients with ventriculo-peritoneal (VP) shunts in whom shunt dysfunction is suspected. We wanted to assess the CT scan exposure in a cohort of children with VP shunts and attempt to quantify their radiation exposure.A single-centre retrospective analysis was performed recording CT head scans in children younger than 18 years with VP shunts. Hospital coding data was cross-referenced with electronic records and radiology databases both in our neurosurgery unit and in hospitals referring to it.One hundred and fifty-two children with VP shunts were identified. The mean time with shunt in situ was 5.4 years (± 4.61). A mean of 3.33 CT scans (range 0–20) were performed on each child, amounting to 0.65 (± 0.87) CTs per shunt year. Based on 2 msv of radiation per scan, this equates to an average exposure of 1.31 msv per child per shunt year.Children who have multiple CT head scans for investigation of possible shunt dysfunction are at a greater risk of developing cancer. We discuss the implications of this increased risk and discuss strategies to limit radiation exposure in children with VP shunts.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Dobson GM, Dalton AK, Nicholson CL, Jenkins AJ, Mitchell PB, Cowie CJA

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Child's Nervous System

Year: 2020

Volume: 36

Pages: 591-599

Print publication date: 01/03/2020

Online publication date: 19/08/2019

Acceptance date: 07/08/2019

Date deposited: 30/08/2019

ISSN (print): 0256-7040

ISSN (electronic): 1433-0350

Publisher: Springer Berlin Heidelberg


DOI: 10.1007/s00381-019-04345-3


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