The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS)’s Director Dr Randeep Guleria on Monday warned against rushing for CT scan in cases of mild COVID-19, saying that its side effects and can end up doing more harm than good.
Guleria pointed that a CT scan exposes the body to x-ray radiation up to 400 times and its repeated use increases the risk of cancer.
“One CT scan is equivalent to 300 to 400 chest x-rays. According to data, repeated CT scans in younger age groups increase the risk of cancer in later life. Exposing yourself to radiation, again and again, may cause damage. So, there is no point in doing a CT scan in mild COVID-19 if the oxygen saturation is normal,” Guleria said.
Amid a staggering surge in COVID-19 cases in the country, AIIMS Director at a press conference said that CT scans and biomarkers are being misused and they can be harmful as well. Stressing that there is no need for doing CT scans in mild COVID cases, he said that many people are opting for the test the moment they find out they are positive for COVID-19 and added that misuse of CT scans and biomarkers may cause damage.
“Even in mild illness and according to a study, even in asymptomatic cases, a CT scan may show patches which go away on their own without treatment,” he said.
Guleria advised that CT scans should be done in cases of moderate disease when hospitalised.
“And if there is a doubt, one should opt for a chest x-ray,” he said. Guleria further said that several blood tests for biomarkers are also not needed in mild illness or in home isolation if the oxygen saturation is fine, fever is not high and there are no other symptoms. “As this will cause panic. These biomarkers are acute phase reactants and they increase even when there is some normal injury and toothache, it does not show that the COVID-19 disease has become severe. This causes more damage. Reliance on these tests can lead to over treatment,” he added.
Meanwhile, the member of the national task force on Covid-19 also suggested that doctors must use medicine judiciously on patients with mild illnesses.
“Clinical management guidelines are clear that people with mild illness need no medicine. Based on limited data, one can take ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine but there is no need to take too many medicines,” he advised.
“Some patients take steroids in an early stage of the disease which can further replicate the virus. Taking high dose steroids in mild cases may lead to severe viral pneumonia. Steroids should be taken in moderate stage and as advised by doctors,” Guleria said.
Steroids are for moderate illness only and patients who are under home isolation due to mild illness do not require them, he added.