X-Rays, Radiation and Children: What to ask your imaging center before the scan

Dr. Hubbard recently wrote about X-ray radiation—how it can add up. Today, we’re featuring a guest post from board-certified radiologist Helene Pavlov, M.D., F.A.C.R., on how to keep it from adding up more than necessary in your kids. Dr. Pavlov is radiologist-in-chief at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.

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Imaging Studies, Radiation and Children
Things to Think About When Your Child is Having an Imaging Study Done

by Helene Pavlov, M.D., F.A.C.R.

Outdoor sports sometimes lead to injuries and fractures, which can land children in hospital emergency rooms and doctors’ offices. Many of these injuries will require imaging examinations to help identify the problem and determine treatment.

Recent media coverage regarding high levels of ionizing radiation associated with frequent use of CT (computed tomography) scans has heightened fear and concern regarding imaging examinations.

In order to better understand important safety protocols, here are some key things to think about when your child is having an imaging examination.

  • Less is Best. Keep in mind that your child is still growing and their body is more susceptible to the effects of ionizing radiation. The less ionizing radiation, the better.
  • Talk to The Doctor. Before you agree to any imaging examination ask what the doctor suspects and is there an alternative non-ionizing radiation imaging examination, such as an MRI or an ultrasound that can be substituted.
  • Make Sure Shielding is Practiced. Ensure that the radiology technologist shields your child and confines the area being exposed. It is okay to ask if the technique being used is adjusted to the size of your child.
  • Inquire About Repeat Rates. Inquire about the center’s repeat rate—or how often does an image need to be repeated because of motion, positioning, or technique. If it is high, you may want to rethink where you are having your child’s imaging done. It is also wise to inquire about the number of pediatric patients in their practice. The higher the percentage of children, the more experienced the team has with getting the image right the first try.

If you follow the tips above and ask questions you will be doing your best to protect your child from unnecessary radiation exposure.

Board-certified radiologist Helene Pavlov, M.D., F.A.C.R., is radiologist-in-chief at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.

Has your child ever been scanned? Did you have any concerns?

Doctors and business owners: Send customized issues of James Hubbard’s My Family Doctor to your customers or patients. E-mail publisher-at-familydoctormag.com for details.

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One Response to “X-Rays, Radiation and Children: What to ask your imaging center before the scan”

  1. Yasmin Says:

    My 5 year old has been exposed to X-rays more than 3 times in the last month. They have taken X-rays of her chest because she had pneumonia, then fractured her arm about 3 weeks later got X-rays I each arm in ER. Then after another visit to the bone doctors they took another X-ray will this hurt her? The more I read the more nervous I am. What should I be doing in order for her to be ok.

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