Medical Imaging Tests for Children: Special Considerations

When it comes to medical imaging tests for children, there are certain special considerations that must be taken into account. It is important to tell your doctor about your child's health problems, medications, recent surgeries, and allergies before the test. Magnetic fields are not harmful, but they can cause some medical devices to malfunction. Most orthopedic implants pose no risk, but you should always tell the technician if your child has any medical or electronic devices implanted.

Additionally, you should inform the doctor and technologist if your child has a known allergy to contrast material. Your child should wear loose, comfortable clothing and may be asked to wear a robe. You may be told not to eat food or drink beforehand, especially if you are going to use anesthesia. In general, children who have recently been ill will not be given anesthesia. If this is the case, or if you suspect that your child may be getting sick, talk to your doctor about the possibility of rescheduling the exam. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a safe and painless test that uses a magnetic field and radio waves to produce detailed images of organs and structures in the body.

However, radiation can damage living tissue and alter DNA, especially in large doses. In very high doses, it can cause serious illness and death. Medical tests use much smaller doses of radiation and do not cause such problems. The main concern is that exposure to radiation may slightly increase your child's risk of cancer in the future. Some of this exposure to radiation can come from natural sources, while some may come from certain medical tests such as x-rays. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) offers learning and training opportunities focusing on various technical considerations of pediatric nuclear medicine, including (but not limited to) multidisciplinary clinical treatment, dosimetry, sedation and immobilization during procedures; imaging enhancement; radioactive waste management; and radiation protection for the family.

A very irregular heartbeat can affect the quality of images obtained using techniques that time the images according to the electrical activity of the heart, such as electrocardiography (ECG). The IAEA Nuclear Medicine and Diagnostic Imaging Section ensures that member States benefit from the mobilization of basic and advanced knowledge through various learning opportunities in pediatric nuclear medicine. Obtaining high-quality diagnostic images requires the patient to remain still throughout the MRI test. Diseases that occur in children have problems and peculiarities that may not be observed (or even overlooked) in routine diagnostic imaging studies designed for adult patients. To find a medical imaging or radiation oncology provider in your community, you can search the database of centers accredited by the American College of Radiology (ACR).

However, when used properly, the benefit of an X-ray imaging exam far outweighs any risks from ionizing radiation. Whether grouped by age or by size, the radiographic image must always be adjusted to meet the needs of the specific type of pediatric patient being examined. In the case of medical x-rays, it is even more important to consider the size of the pediatric patient than their age since this determines the amount of radiation needed to produce a quality medical image. Newer open MRI units provide very high quality images for many types of exams; however, older open MRI units may not provide the same image quality. When possible, Dayton Children's will use imaging tools that do not produce radiation to assess the patient's condition such as an ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging. The individual risk of a necessary imaging exam is minimal compared to its benefit in helping an accurate diagnosis or intervention. Understanding the benefits and risks of x-rays can help you make an informed decision about your child's health.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that medical x-ray imaging tests including computed tomography (CT), fluoroscopy, and conventional x-rays use the lowest dose of radiation needed taking into account the patient's size and age. The FDA regulates X-ray imaging devices through the electronic product radiation control (EPRC) and medical device provisions of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

Lucas Clark
Lucas Clark

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