DOCTOR IS IN: Keep kids safe during radiation procedures

By Kimberly Applegate, M.D., M.S., F.A.C.R.

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta radiologist and Vice Chair of Quality and Safety, Department of Radiology, Emory University School of Medicine.

kimberly applegate
When faced with the need for medical imaging tests in their children, many parents are afraid as they may not understand the technology or the reasons why a test is being performed. Parents also do not often understand the risks and benefits for their child. The diagnostic radiologist is a physician imaging expert. Most radiologists receive 13 years of extensive training (medical school, residency, subspecialty). Radiologists often also endure additional training in how to perform and interpret imaging in children safety.

Pediatric radiologists are careful with the risks that tests pose for children. One particularly important risk is from ionizing radiation. Pediatric radiology facilities use low radiation dosages that are tailored for the size of each child to minimize the radiation the child receives. For more information on radiation safety for children, visit image gently.

Studies show that children cope better with medical procedures when they are well-prepared ahead of time. Parents are also better able to help their children when they are prepared. One or two days prior to a radiology procedure, parents should tell their child that he is going to the hospital to have some “pictures” taken of his body. If the procedure will be painful (such as a needle stick to start an I.V.), let the child know that it is perfectly acceptable to cry. Refer to the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta guide for more advice for parents before arriving for an imaging test for their child.

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