Pediatric diagnostic imaging requires special considerations due to the greater sensitivity of pediatric patients to ionizing radiation. Children, because they are growing rapidly, experience a faster rate of cell division, which gives ionizing radiation a greater opportunity to disrupt the process. Fetuses are even more sensitive to radiation, and certain systems of the body in fetuses, babies, and children are more sensitive than others to radiation. Because of the unique needs of children, special care must be taken when pediatric diagnostic imaging is done.
Ionizing Radiation in Pediatric Diagnostic Imaging
Computed tomography (CT), fluoroscopy, and conventional x-rays are common pediatric diagnostic imaging techniques that all use ionizing radiation to create images of internal structures. All three of these techniques involve the passing of an x-ray beam through the body. Inside the body, some x-rays are absorbed and others scattered by internal structures. The remaining x-ray pattern is transmitted to a detector for processing to create one or more diagnostic images. These are extremely valuable medical tools for noninvasive, painless diagnosis, support of medical treatment planning, and for guidance of interventional procedures like placement of catheters or stents.
The individual risk from a single pediatric diagnostic imaging procedure is very small compared to the benefit of obtaining accuracy of diagnosis or intervention. Nonetheless, ionizing radiation does pose some risk, and radiologists should take steps to minimize risk by reducing unnecessary exposure of patients (particularly pediatric patients) to radiation.
Medical Industry Efforts to Maximize Safety in Pediatric Radiology
Efforts by professionals in many parts of the medical industry to maximize safety of pediatric diagnostic imaging have been in place for a long time and are ongoing. The Alliance for Radiation Safety in Pediatric Imaging (ARSPI) regularly holds vendor summits for diagnostic imaging manufacturers, and has launched several radiation safety campaigns. Many of these efforts focus on reducing radiation exposure in CT because of higher radiation doses involved in this type of imaging. The FDA, ARSPI, and the Medical Imaging and Technology Alliance (MITA) regularly collaborate on projects designed to reduce pediatric patient exposure to radiation, and they distribute extensive educational information online.
Basic Principles of Radiation Protection
Imaging professionals and radiologists are advised by the FDA to observe two basic principles of radiation protection. These principles were developed by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) and are:
• Justification that the imaging procedure is expected to do more good than harm to the patient.
• Optimization of examinations using techniques that administer the lowest radiation dose that produces an image of sufficient quality for diagnosis or intervention. In pediatric patients, practitioners should use equipment designed for pediatric use.
Examinations that use ionizing radiation should be conducted only when necessary to guide a procedure, treat a disease, or answer a diagnostic question, and the patient’s medical history should be considered carefully before referral for an imaging procedure involving ionizing radiation. Pediatric diagnostic imaging should be conducted by a knowledgeable team with experience in pediatric radiology.
Importance of Experience in Pediatric Diagnostic Imaging
Pediatric diagnostic imaging should use the minimum necessary radiation dose to ensure diagnostic-quality images, and doing this depends largely on the skill and experience of the radiologist and his or her radiology team. Reducing radiation dose excessively can result in image quality that’s too low to be diagnostic, yet the radiation dose shouldn’t exceed that which is necessary. Pediatric diagnostic imaging is a specialty that is especially important due to the special needs of pediatric patients. The radiologist with specific experience in pediatric diagnostic imaging maximizes safety and image quality, and greatly reduces the chances of an imaging study having to be redone.
SteleRAD Offers Pediatric Diagnostic Imaging Solutions
Technology is continually increasing the complexity and accuracy of diagnostic images, and with pediatric diagnostic imaging, radiologists with pediatric radiology experience are better positioned to use imaging technology appropriately and safely in these more vulnerable patients.
SteleRAD is owned and operated by Board-certified radiologists with decades of experience in both general and specialty radiology, including pediatric radiology. SteleRAD adheres to the highest standards in medical imaging technology, delivering outstanding radiology services to hospitals, imaging centers, and physician groups. To learn more about SteleRAD‘s radiology services, contact us online or call 954-358-5250.