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Reducing Medical Radiation Exposure In Children

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Though talked about and debated by health care providers and in medical literature for decades, the issue of medical radiation and its safety has recently become headline news. With the large volume of information available, it can be difficult for parents and caregivers to figure out what is safe for children.

That's why it is important to start by asking the medical staff who perform these exams about radiation safety. At Beaumont Children's Hospital, the pediatric radiologists encourage patients, parents, caregivers and doctors to ask about the utility and safety of specific radiology exams.

The pediatric radiologists will tell you that medical radiation and its safety remains controversial, though many experts believe there is a theoretical increased lifetime risk of cancer related to doses similar to those used for diagnostic radiology, including X-rays, fluoroscopy (an X-ray procedure that produces real-time images on a video monitor) and, especially, CT scans.

"The relationship between dose and cancer risk appears linear, meaning that each dose counts cumulatively and there is no level below which there is no effect," says David A. Bloom, M.D.

Most current literature suggests steps should be taken to minimize the risk as if it is real. This includes:

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* knowing there is a theoretical risk

* making sure the test in question (one that uses ionizing radiation) is truly needed

* using the latest techniques and technology to minimize the radiation dose to a child without sacrificing quality and accuracy

* discussing alternative tests that do not use ionizing radiation

* having the imaging done at a facility that routinely reviews the above steps and is appropriately accredited for pediatric imaging, such as Beaumont Children's Hospital

* having pediatric radiologists on staff for protocol development, consultation with the referring physicians and interpretation.

The pediatric radiologists at Beaumont Children's Hospital take all of these steps and more to ensure the safety and comfort of their patients.