Ionizing radiation in children due to diagnostic imaging

January 01, 0001

Ionizing radiation in children due to diagnostic imaging

These US authors conducted a retrospective cohort study to determine population-based rates of the use of diagnostic imaging procedures with ionizing radiation in children, stratified by age and sex. Patients were younger than 18 years, alive, and continuously enrolled in a specific health plan for all of 2005 through 2007, in 5 large US health care markets.

They found: "A total of 355,088 children were identified; 436,711 imaging procedures using ionizing radiation were performed in 150,930 patients (42.5%). The highest rates of use were in children older than 10 years, with frequent use in infants younger than 2 years as well. Plain radiography accounted for 84.7% of imaging procedures performed. Computed tomographic scans—associated with substantially higher doses of radiation—were commonly used, accounting for 11.9% of all procedures during the study period. Overall, 7.9% of children received at least 1 computed tomographic scan and 3.5% received 2 or more, with computed tomographic scans of the head being the most frequent."

The authors concluded: "Exposure to ionizing radiation from medical diagnostic imaging procedures may occur frequently among children. Efforts to optimize and ensure appropriate use of these procedures in the pediatric population should be encouraged."

When ordering diagnostic imaging in children the risk of ionizing radiation vs benefit should be explicitly considered.

For the full abstract, click here.

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 165(5):458-464, May 2011
© 2011 to the American Medical Association
Use of Medical Imaging Procedures With Ionizing Radiation in Children-Population-Based Study. Adam L. Dorfman, Reza Fazel, Andrew J. Einstein, et al. Correspondence to Dr. Dorfman: [email protected]

Category: A. General/Unspecified. Keywords: radiography, computed tomography, ionizing radiation, children, retrospective cohort study, journal watch.
Synopsis edited by Dr Linda French, Toledo, Ohio. Posted on Global Family Doctor 17 May 2011

Pearls are an independent product of the Cochrane primary care group and are meant for educational use and not to guide clinical care.