Warning: CT scans to detect COVID-19 variants may do more harm than good, trigger cancer
With RT-PCR tests failing to detect some COVID-19 variants, more people are demanding CT scans on testing positive. Is this really necessary?
The emergence of variants of the COVID-19 virus is worrying for more reasons than one. Apparently, newer and more contagious variants often go undetected in the standard RT-PCR tests that are done to detect the virus. Many experts say that getting a CT scan done is the only way to detect the presence of these mutated virus. This has led to more and more people demanding a CT scan after testing positive. But is this really necessary? AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria on Monday advised avoiding unnecessary computerised tomography scan (CT scan) in cases of mild symptoms of Covid-19 and warned against use of steroids in the early infections of the deadly disease.
CT scans more harmful than X-rays
Addressing a press conference, Guleria said one CT scan is equivalent to 300-400 chest X-rays and this increases the risk of having cancer in later life, especially in youth, as one is exposed to harmful radiation. The CT scan will show few patches which will end without any treatment, he noted.
CT scans can detect white patches in lungs
The CT scan machine takes cross-sectional images of the body using computers and rotating X-ray machines. They are being used to detect Covid-19 infections by detecting signs of pneumonia or white patches in lungs. More people are relying on the expensive scan than last year as reports suggest the mutant variants of the virus can go undetected in the gold standard RT-PCR test.
40 per cent COVID patients getting CT scans done
"There have been studies which show that around 30-40 per cent of people who are asymptomatic but are Covid positive and got a CT scan done... they also had patches which ended without any treatment," Guleria said and added, "CT scan and markers are being misused. A lot of people are getting CT scans done. There is no use of the scan in early stages as it will not detect (Covid) properly in mild cases." The AIIMS chief suggested to go for a chest X-ray first, if necessary. "The doctor will give proper advice whether a CT scan is needed or not." He said asymptomatic patients with normal oxygen saturation should not go for CT scans.
More tests mean more panic: Guleria
About biomarkers, which are used to see how well the body responds to a treatment for a disease or condition, Guleria said: "If one is Covid positive with mild symptoms, then there is no need to go for blood tests, CPC or LDH as these will only create a panic reaction. These biomarkers are acute phase reactants which will increase with inflammation in your body." He warned that biomarkers can be more harmful and advised to get a CT scan done only when there is any indication.
Blood tests may also prove to be unnecessary
He also warned of taking heavy steroids at an early stage of Covid. "Mild cases can be treated with normal medicines. There is no need to take heavy steroids as they are only taken in cases of moderate or serious infections." Guleria, who is also a member of the national pandemic task force, added that blood tests can't always prove Covid infections as other underlying diseases can also trigger a spike in biomarkers. He said people with mild infections should not opt for blood tests. The top doctor also said that Remdesivir, Tocilizumab and plasma therapy were only emergency measures.
(With inputs from IANS)
Published:Tue, May 04, 2021 9:28am | Updated:Wed, May 05, 2021 11:57am