Summer Injuries & Radiation From X-rays: What Parents Need to Know

teen cast broken leg skateboardteen cast broken leg skateboardWith summer upon us, children will be out in force running, playing their favorite sports, riding bikes, and having fun with their friends. As much fun as these activities can be, injuries can sometimes occur, sending children to their local hospital's emergency department for X-rays, CT scans, and more.

Dr. Helene Pavlov, Radiologist-in-Chief at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, discusses summertime bumps and bruises in children and what parents should understand about radiation safety regarding X-rays and other types of imaging.

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What Parents Need to Know About Summer Injuries and Radiation From X-rays

By Dr. Helene Pavlov

Recent media coverage about high levels of ionizing radiation associated with the frequent use of CT (computed tomography) scans has heightened fear and concern among parents regarding radiology and imaging.

Here are four important safety protocols that parents should take into consideration when their children need imaging for possible broken bones or fractures:

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Less Is Best
Children are still growing and their bodies are more susceptible to the effects of ionizing radiation -- the less ionizing radiation, the better. Parents should ask if the center emphasizes ALARA, the acronym for "As Low As Reasonably Achievable," with regard to ionizing radiation exposure.

Talk to the Doctor

Before agreeing to an imaging examination, ask what the doctor suspects is the problem and whether there is a non-ionizing radiation imaging examination available, such as an MRI or an ultrasound that can be substituted.

Make Sure Shielding Is Practiced

Ensure that the radiology technologist shields the child and confines the area being exposed. It's okay to ask if the technique being used has been adjusted to the size of the child.

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Inquire About Repeat Rates
Ask about the center's repeat rate, or how often an image needs to be repeated because of excessive motion, incorrect positioning, or improper technique. If it's high, parents may want to choose a new imaging center for their child's examination. It's also wise to inquire about the number of pediatric patients seen. The higher the percentage of children, the more experience the team has with getting the image correct on the first try.

Has your child ever experienced a break or a fracture or had to get an X-ray?

Written by Sheri Reed for CafeMom's blog, The Stir.

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