When a child strikes their head in a car crash, playing sports, in a fall or other accident, parents may be concerned about them undergoing a CT scan because of the exposure to ionizing radiation. However, doctors often order CT scans in emergency rooms to help diagnose traumatic brain injuries (TBI).

There’s a good — and safer — alternative, according to a study published recently in the journal Pediatrics. Researchers at the University of Colorado School of Medicine found that a “fast MRI” got the same or similar results as CT scans in 99% of cases. They looked at the test results of over 200 children under 6 who were seen in an emergency room.

Seventy percent of the 1.6 million children who go to emergency rooms with head injuries are given CT scans. However, fast MRI scans typically take about six minutes and don’t expose the patient to potentially cancer-causing radiation.

Many emergency rooms don’t have access to fast MRI equipment or to radiologists and other technicians who know how to use them and read the results. If your child has suffered a head injury, it’s helpful to know the testing options the emergency room or other medical facility you take them to has. You may want to have additional testing performed at another facility.

Newer state-of-the-art testing like fast MRIs may cost more. However, it’s essential that your child is accurately diagnosed so that the proper treatment can begin as soon as possible. If the injury was the result of the actions or negligence of an individual or entity, you can seek to hold them civilly liable to get compensation for medical treatment and other expenses and damages.