AIIMS chief warns of cancer risk, advises avoiding CT scan for mild COVID-19 symptoms

Asymptomatic patients with normal oxygen saturation should not go for CT scans, informed Randeep Guleria.

AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria on Monday cautioned people to not rush for a CT Scan if they have mild coronavirus symptoms, adding that overuse of CT scans can have side effects as it exposes to radiation that can increase the risk of cancer. Given the pandemic situation, people even with mild symptoms are rushing to get CT-Scan repeatedly, however, according to the AIIMS Director, it provides no good result.

Informing about the CT scans, AIIM Director Dr Guleria said, "CT-Scan and biomarkers are being misused. There is no advantage in doing CT-Scan if you have mild symptoms. One CT-Scan is equivalent to 300 chest x-rays, it's very harmful."

"No point in conducting CT scans for mild cases; one may find patches in CT scan even if he/she is asymptomatic but may get cured easily 1 #CTScan = 300-400 Chest X-rays! With frequent CTs, risk of cancer in later life increases, for youngsters," Guleria warned, saying that the data by the international atomic energy commission for radiation protection and medicine have noted an increased risk of cancer later in life due to frequent CT scans, especially if done at a young age.

Addressing the misuse of diagnosis, Guleria said is not needed in case of mild covid symptoms. "A lot of people are getting CT scans done and deems it important to get CT scans done if their Covid tests turn out to be positive," he said. 

Citing a study where patches have been visible in the CT scan of about 30-40% of asymptomatic Covid-19 patients, which got cleared without any treatment, thus, with this study, Guleria tried clearing that in case of mild infection, under home isolation with no problem or decrease in saturation there is no use of a CT scan as some patches will appear.

Giving additional information, the AIIMS Director said biomarkers like CRP, D-Dimer, LDH, Ferritin etc are also of no use in case of mild symptoms and normal saturation levels as it only alarms patients. 

"All these biomarkers are acute phase reactants, which means if there is any kind of inflammation in the body these markers will soar. If you get acne or zit, injury, infection in your teeth then also these biomarkers will increase because it's your body's inflammatory response. So, it fails to accurately show if the viral disease has increased," the AIIMS chief said.

Dependence on biomarkers can end up in the over-treatment of the patient hurting the body. "Do biomarkers only when you have a moderate illness and on the advice of your doctors," Guleria recommended.

Citing the study, Dr Guleria further said that in the moderate case of COVID, the main treatment is oxygen. Oxygen acts like a drug. After that, steroids may be needed and anticoagulant to prevent blood clotting. These are the only three main treatments of Corona. Remdisivir, tocilizumab and plasma are the latter treatment in times of emergency. If the patient is getting oxygen, steroids and anti-coagulants, then other things are not required.

According to Dr Guleria, if someone is COVID positive but is not having trouble breathing, the oxygen level is fine and has no high fever, then there is no need to panic at all and neither advisable to take more medicines. These drugs reverse the effect and the patient's health starts to deteriorate. The AIIMS director said that people get blood tests done repeatedly unless the doctors say no, do not do all this on your own, as this would cause more tension.

Meanwhile, speaking on oxygen availability in the country, Union Health Ministry, Joint Secretary, Lav Agarwal, said, "We're planning to use gaseous oxygen for medical purposes. Industrial units that make oxygen which is suitable for medical purposes and are near cities, we're planning to make temporary COVID care centres with oxygenated beds around them."

"We're seeing a positive approach in recoveries too. On May 2, the recovery rate was at 78% & on May 3 it climbed up to almost 82%. These are early gains on which we have to work on regularly," Lav Agarwal added.

Also Read: Few states displaying early signs of decline in daily COVID cases: Health Ministry

On Monday, India recorded over 368,000 new Coronavirus cases and 3417 deaths in the last 24 hours, as per the Union health ministry data.






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