Radiology and Child Safety: Steps Professionals Take To Protect Your Child

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Radiology is an invaluable tool in the diagnosis and treatment of many different injuries, diseases, and conditions; however, some people get nervous about radiology imaging tests because of the exposure to radiation. When a child suffers an injury, and needs a CT scan or an MRI, parents get doubly nervous. They rightfully do not want their children to suffer from radiation-related side effects, so let’s take a look at the safety measures that radiologists take to protect your children during imaging tests. But first we should examine the benefits of diagnostic imaging.

Benefits of Radiology

Radiology tests include x-rays, CT scans, MRIs, PET scans, fluoroscopy, and more. Over time these tests have gotten more and more advanced, and more and more precise. Some radiology tests use x-ray radiation to take pictures of the internal structures of the body. If you have broken a bone or been to the dentist you have probably undergone x-rays.

Radiology can diagnose broken bones, cancer, brain injuries, spinal trauma, blocked blood vessels, aneurysms, torn muscles and tendons, and much more. These diagnostic tests are a vital part of modern medicine. They have saved countless lives and are continuing to be refined and perfected to save many more.

Can My Child Be Exposed To Radiation?

The one negative effect that is often cited as a con of radiology is the exposure to radiation. According to Dr. Catherine Phillips, “to insure safety, radiologists will use limited doses and lead aprons. They also try to avoid unnecessary or excessive testing.” Lead aprons are often use because x-ray waves cannot pass through lead. The aprons will typically be places over the groin or other areas on which radiation may have an effect. They will also minimize the dose and use as little radiation as possible to get the test done. As technology advances, radiologists are figuring out smarter and safer ways to do these tests.

When Should My Child Get A Medical Imaging Scan?

As it is right now, CT scans and x-rays do not expose you to too much radiation. People are exposed to trace amounts of radiation in their everyday lives, and an x-ray of the arm requires about as much radiation as an average person would be exposed to in three hours of a regular day. The key to limiting radiation, especially in children, is not running excessive testing. There are a few key questions to ask to determine whether your child should undergo an imaging test:

·      Is the imaging test medically necessary?

·      Can previous tests substitute for this exam?

·      Are there alternative exams that do not require radiation?

·      Is this facility familiar with imaging children?

If the test is medically necessary, then the benefit almost certainly outweighs the minor risk of an imaging procedure. Another thing to note is that MRIs do not require radiation. They are tests performed using magnetic and radio waves, however they are often more expensive than x-ray or CT scans. 

So, Can My Child Get An MRI?

Many parents ask, “can my child get an MRI?” and the answer is usually yes. Since MRIs do not use radiation they are much safer for children. However, you should make sure that the imaging facility is familiar with running tests on children. Imaging tests need to be specifically tailored to a child’s height, weight, and age. 

You should always address any concerns regarding the procedures with your radiologist, and he/she will work with you and your child to figure out the test that best suits their needs and conditions. You can also visit the website of the American College of Radiology for more information on medical radiation and imaging procedures.