Skip to content
Font Size
A
A
A

Radiology and Children: Extra Care Required

Most everyone knows of the need for safety when having radiological imaging, such as X-rays, done. Steps to protect against the low-level radiation involved with these procedures include the wearing of lead aprons and the extra precautions required for imaging pregnant women.

Additional vigilance and safety are also needed when it comes to the radiological imaging of children.

Recommended Related to FDA Center

In-Body Pediatric Devices Pose Unique Challenges

Implantable medical devices help improve the health of millions of people. Usually placed in patients' bodies through surgery, these devices treat a wide range of medical conditions, including cardiac and nervous system disorders. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates all medical devices through its Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH). Many of the implantable devices FDA regulates have been approved for pediatric use, meaning they can be used by people who are under the...

Read the In-Body Pediatric Devices Pose Unique Challenges article > >

Kids May Be More Sensitive

The individual risk from radiological imaging is quite small when compared to the benefits that it can provide through helping with accurate diagnosis. Still, unnecessary radiation exposure during medical procedures should be avoided. This is particularly important when the patient is a child.

Children may be more sensitive to radiation received from medical imaging scans than adults. One factor to consider is that children have more rapidly dividing cells that can be exposed to the low-level radiation. Also, they have a longer expected lifetime for the effects of radiation exposure to manifest as cancer.

That is why it is important that with children, the lowest radiation dose necessary is used for providing an image from which an accurate diagnosis can be made.

FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) regulates medical imaging devices. Among its many responsibilities is helping consumers keep informed about minimizing unnecessary radiation exposure in medical procedures.

This emphasis on information is why the agency is assisting Image Gently, a national initiative of the Alliance for Radiation Safety in Pediatric Imaging. Image Gently aims to educate parents and health care professionals about the special precautions required for children undergoing radiological imaging.

Participants in the Image Gently campaign include the Society for Pediatric Radiology, the American College of Radiology, the American Society of Radiologic Technologists, and the American Association of Physicists in Medicine. FDA has included links to Image Gently on CDRH Web pages, helping the initiative get its message out.

First Focus: Computed Tomography (CT)

The campaign's introductory focus is on child-safety awareness in regard to computed tomography (CT) scans.

CT scans are taken in large machines containing a round hole and tunnel chamber. Patients lie on a table that slides into the chamber, where an X-ray camera rotates around them and snaps pictures offering health care professionals three-dimensional views of internal organs, bone, soft tissue, and blood vessels.