Tracking Effects of X-ray Radiation in Children
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We have known for some time that children are more sensitive to radiation than adults. And because children have less overlying tissue, the same exposure results in higher radiation doses to their organs than for adults.
Now a new study quantifies the risk levels for specific types of cancers. A report from the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation states that children exposed to radiation were more likely than adults to develop specific cancers, including leukemia and thyroid, breast, and brain cancer.
The report also stated that the risk for about 15% of tumors, including those of the colon, was about the same in children and adults. And for about 10% of tumors, including lung cancer, adults were more sensitive.
Healthcare facilities across the globe are focused on reducing dose for pediatric patients across all X-ray modalities. For projection radiography, lower dose is enabled by highly sensitive, cesium iodide digital detectors that can capture high-quality images with less radiation. In addition to standard-size detectors, new small-format detectors that can fit into incubator trays and be used for a variety of exams enhance image capture for delicate premature and neonatal babies.
An ECRI study also highlights the risk of radiation to children and suggests minimizing exposure to high doses of ionizing radiation by use of nonradiation-bearing imaging exams, such as MRI and ultrasound, when appropriate. Providers should also limit use of CT to cases where other modalities cannot provide the required diagnostic information.
Healthcare providers are also starting to measure and track dose for pediatric and adult patients. New software is being developed to collect and distribute dose information from CR and DR systems to a healthcare provider’s PACS. This new software will help expedite the ability to track dose values for each patient. Healthcare providers will also need to track dose for CT, nuclear medicine and other modalities.
In addition to reducing radiation exposure, the ultimate goal is to create a cumulative dose record for each patient. Both healthcare providers and equipment suppliers are working hard to make this a reality.
Does your institution have imaging guidelines for pediatric exams that are designed to reduce dose? And are you tracking dose for pediatric patients?