Pediatric Annals

CME Article 

Radiation Protection and Safety in Pediatric Imaging

Ana Maria Gaca, MD

Abstract

The benefits to any patient from ionizing radiation associated with medical imaging are, in general, clear and immediate. When performed appropriately, the individual risk to the patient is low and is outweighed by the benefits. Consequently, there has been a rapid growth in the number of medical imaging examinations of all types performed. With advances in the technology of computed tomography (CT) allowing for faster and more sensitive examinations, CT has become an increasingly important and increasingly used imaging tool. A study of CT use in the emergency department (ED) found that from 2000 to 2006 there was a 65% increase in the number of CTs ordered on children younger than 17 years, while pediatric ED patient volume increased only 2%.4 A series of articles published in the American Journal of Roentgenology in 2001, however, brought attention to the often inappropriate amounts of radiation, and the potential associated cancer risks, which may be associated with CT scanning, particularly in children.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ana Maria Gaca, MD, is Associate, Division of Pediatric Radiology, Department of Radiology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC. Address correspondence to: Ana Maria Gaca, MD, Box 3808, DUMC Department of Radiology, Durham, NC 27710; e-mail ana.gaca@duke.edu; fax 919-684-7151.

Dr. Gaca has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

EDUCATIONAL OBJECTIVES

  1. Determine the unique features of imaging children that place this population at higher risk from ionizing radiation.
  2. Discuss the role played by the primary care pediatrician and the pediatric radiologist in minimizing radiation exposure in the selection of imaging modalities in children.
  3. Review strategies that can be employed to minimize radiation exposure in pediatric imaging.

Abstract

The benefits to any patient from ionizing radiation associated with medical imaging are, in general, clear and immediate. When performed appropriately, the individual risk to the patient is low and is outweighed by the benefits. Consequently, there has been a rapid growth in the number of medical imaging examinations of all types performed. With advances in the technology of computed tomography (CT) allowing for faster and more sensitive examinations, CT has become an increasingly important and increasingly used imaging tool. A study of CT use in the emergency department (ED) found that from 2000 to 2006 there was a 65% increase in the number of CTs ordered on children younger than 17 years, while pediatric ED patient volume increased only 2%.4 A series of articles published in the American Journal of Roentgenology in 2001, however, brought attention to the often inappropriate amounts of radiation, and the potential associated cancer risks, which may be associated with CT scanning, particularly in children.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ana Maria Gaca, MD, is Associate, Division of Pediatric Radiology, Department of Radiology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC. Address correspondence to: Ana Maria Gaca, MD, Box 3808, DUMC Department of Radiology, Durham, NC 27710; e-mail ana.gaca@duke.edu; fax 919-684-7151.

Dr. Gaca has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

EDUCATIONAL OBJECTIVES

  1. Determine the unique features of imaging children that place this population at higher risk from ionizing radiation.
  2. Discuss the role played by the primary care pediatrician and the pediatric radiologist in minimizing radiation exposure in the selection of imaging modalities in children.
  3. Review strategies that can be employed to minimize radiation exposure in pediatric imaging.

The benefits to any patient from ionizing radiation associated with medical imaging are, in general, clear and immediate. When performed appropriately, the individual risk to the patient is low and is outweighed by the benefits. Consequently, there has been a rapid growth in the number of medical imaging examinations of all types performed. With advances in the technology of computed tomography (CT) allowing for faster and more sensitive examinations, CT has become an increasingly important and increasingly used imaging tool. A study of CT use in the emergency department (ED) found that from 2000 to 2006 there was a 65% increase in the number of CTs ordered on children younger than 17 years, while pediatric ED patient volume increased only 2%.4 A series of articles published in the American Journal of Roentgenology in 2001, however, brought attention to the often inappropriate amounts of radiation, and the potential associated cancer risks, which may be associated with CT scanning, particularly in children.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ana Maria Gaca, MD, is Associate, Division of Pediatric Radiology, Department of Radiology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC. Address correspondence to: Ana Maria Gaca, MD, Box 3808, DUMC Department of Radiology, Durham, NC 27710; e-mail ana.gaca@duke.edu; fax 919-684-7151.

Dr. Gaca has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

EDUCATIONAL OBJECTIVES

  1. Determine the unique features of imaging children that place this population at higher risk from ionizing radiation.
  2. Discuss the role played by the primary care pediatrician and the pediatric radiologist in minimizing radiation exposure in the selection of imaging modalities in children.
  3. Review strategies that can be employed to minimize radiation exposure in pediatric imaging.

10.3928/00904481-20080601-06

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