Minimizing Radiation Risks to Your Child
It’s important to choose an imaging facility that specializes in low-dose radiology techniques to minimize the amount of radiation your child receives during an imaging test. At these facilities, radiologists and technologists are specially-trained to:
- Choose the correct imaging test. MRI and ultrasound are safer alternatives to X-rays and CT scans, but are not always the most appropriate tools.
- Take the minimum number of images necessary. You wouldn’t think of repeating an X-ray every hour or every day for evaluation of how a simple fracture is healing, or taking 20 different views of the arm with every X-ray study.
Similarly, ‘retaking’ blurry or inconclusive images due to a child moving can result in unnecessary exposure to radiation. Child life specialists, distraction techniques and, in some cases, sedation, are tools used in pediatric radiology centers to reduce the need for retakes.
- Take images only of the specific body part or area. There’s no need to X-ray an entire arm for a suspected finger fracture.
- Use the lowest amount of radiation that will create effective images based on the weight, age and body part of the child. Performing an abdominal CT on a 100-pound child requires a much different dose than a head CT on a 1-year-old child.
How do I know if my imaging facility is using techniques to minimize radiation exposure?
Be aware and ask questions. Imaging centers that perform tests on adults may not use radiation dose reduction techniques when scanning children. This can result in unnecessarily exposing your child to large amounts of radiation.
Before choosing an imaging center, parents should ask the following questions:
- What steps does the facility take to reduce radiation doses in children?
- Do they select dosage for imaging tests based on the child’s weight and age?
- Is there a pediatric radiologist on staff?
- Will a pediatric-trained technologist perform the test?
- Is the facility accredited in CT by the American College of Radiology?
- Does the facility routinely track radiation usage?
- Does the imaging center follow guidelines to limit the number of CT scans?