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Radiology and Children: Extra Care Required

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First Focus: Computed Tomography (CT) continued...

CT has helped improve the diagnosis and care for conditions such as cancer, heart disease, brain disorders, and cardiovascular illnesses. But the technology does expose patients to higher doses of radiation than most other radiological exams.

FDA has long been involved in notifying the public and health care professionals about reducing radiation risk from CT for pediatric and small adult patients.

The agency has advised radiology professionals to optimize CT settings based on patient weight or diameter and the part of the body of interest, reduce dose while maintaining diagnostic image quality, reduce the number of multiple scans with contrast material, and eliminate inappropriate patient referrals for CT.

CT: Tips for Parents

Meanwhile, the Image Gently campaign advises parents to

  • Talk with your child's physician. He or she will know or can find out if the imaging center to which they refer uses appropriate pediatric CT scanning techniques, and if a non-radiation imaging test might be as useful for your child's situation.
  • Be your child's advocate. Learn about ways health care professionals can lower and limit radiation dose in the CT imaging of children without compromising diagnostic quality. Ask questions.
  • Be sure that the imaging facility is using appropriate reduced radiation techniques. You may not know unless you ask, and it is reasonable and within your rights to do so.
  • Check credentials. Ask whether the facility has American College of Radiology accreditation, whether the CT technologists have the proper credentials, and if the person interpreting the studies is a board-certified radiologist or pediatric radiologist.

For more information about topics for your health, visit the FDA Consumer Information Center (www.fda.gov/consumer). 

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