Introduction Social patterning is known to influence health throughout life. In childhood, studies have shown increased injury rates in more deprived settings. Through this, it is also possible that socio-economic status may be related to rates of undergoing certain medical procedures with relatively high radiation doses, such as computed tomography (CT) scans. This study aimed to assess socio-economic variation among young people having CT scans in the North of England between 1990 and 2002.
Methods Electronic data were obtained from Radiology Information Systems of all nine National Health Service hospital Trusts in the region. Data related to CT scans, including sex, date of scan, age at scan, number and type of scans were assessed in relation to quintiles of Townsend deprivation scores, obtained from linkage of postcodes with UK census data.
Results During the study period, 39 676 scans were recorded on 21 089 patients. The number of scans and patients scanned differed in relation to quintiles of deprivation, with increasing numbers of scans and patients associated with increasing area-level deprivation. Significant associations were also seen between deprivation and age at scan, age at first scan, type of CT scan, and the number of scans per patient.
Conclusion Social inequalities exist in the numbers of young people undergoing CT scans with those from deprived areas more likely to do so. This is likely to reflect the rates of injuries in these individuals and implies that certain groups within the population may receive higher radiation doses than others due to medical procedures.
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