Is It Safe for my Child to Get an X-Ray or other Imaging Procedure?

Due to the nature of children, injuries both minor and major can arise quite often. Whether kids are playing sports, horsing around or happen to be in some kind of accident situation, when they are hurt, every parent wants to make sure that they provide the best care and attention. When a child’s injuries are serious, it is always recommended to have medical attention. But what if a child needs more than just the usual stitches or band-aid? What if they have broken bones or a serious injury?

When a child’s medical needs go beyond the usual, parents are concerned with any additional trauma that their child may have to experience. Obviously, the first concern of any parent is to heal their child but they also don’t want their child to suffer any side effects or complications. This is why many parents are wary of medical imaging for their children.

For those of an older generation or those who aren’t aware of the amazing advances and progress that the medical imaging field has made, the process can sound a tad frightening. Most parents are worried about the effects radiation from these machines and instruments could cause further harm to their children. A recent article has called upon the medical community to create a more standardized method of medical imaging because the lack of regular protocol has led to many alarmed and confused parents.

Dr. Stephen J. Swensen of the Mayo Clinic reports there is an “overuse and misuse of medical imaging among children” and seeks “an appeal to standardize safe and appropriate imaging of children.” Dr. Swensen applies a “right” kind of approach to children and medical imaging meaning that there is a “right exam” for every case, a “right way” for each procedure and a “right radiation dose” for different sized children. This is not to say that if a child breaks their arm they shouldn’t have an X-ray performed. Or if there is a case of pediatric cancer, then CTs should be the test of choice. But because children are still growing, the problem is in the over-usage of medical imaging especially if a facility is not using digital medical imaging. It’s one of the reason that both our X-Ray and Ultrasound equipment both use digital results.

Dr. Swensen’s proposal is not meant to dissuade parents from using medical imaging to help treat their children or to scold doctors and facilities that perform this procedures on children. On the contrary, the proposal is to simply ask these facilities and physicians to take a more personalized approach to their younger patients. While children can bounce back from injury and sickness better than their adult counterparts, physicians are asked to make sure they are following protocol and doing what they can to protect their child patients from any future harm.

Doctors Imaging in Metairie welcomes children of all ages to have their medical imaging needs performed. Like all of our procedures and instruments for the adult patients, children’s medical imaging exams are calibrated to have the lowest radiation settings to ensure both the best images possible but furthermore, the least amount of radiation exposure possible. In addition to our family-friendly staff, we also have the most up-to-date machinery so parents need not worry about radiation when their children come to Doctors Imaging.

If you have other questions about children and medical imaging, feel free to contact Doctors Imaging in Metairie for answers by calling 504-883-8111 or completing our online form.

Can Children Have Medical Imaging Procedures Performed?

Adults are not the only people that seem to get injured or sick. When children have health scares or emergency injuries, it is up to the parents and physicians to work together to find the best treatment options for the child. If a child requires hospitalization or surgery, then the doctor will likely want a battery of medical tests performed, all with the assistance of medical imaging. Continue reading to find out what the benefits, risks and imaging procedures will be like for your child in the event of sickness or injury.

Ultrasounds

Ultrasounds are one of the most common and frequently used medical imaging procedures.  Ultrasounds use sound waves and computer technology to see into the internal structures of the body. Because of the lack of radiation used, they are completely safe to perform on children. Women will often have several ultrasounds performed throughout their pregnancy and all are harmless. Ultrasounds can help determine conditions like cardiovascular birth defects, dysfunction in the reproductive organs, injuries after traumatic incidents like falls or car accidents, and possible cancerous masses. This procedure is also completely painless for children so there is no need for sedation or anesthesia.

CT / CAT Scan

A CT or CAT scan is another medical imaging procedure that your doctor may ask to perform. CT scans use a combination of X-ray and computer technology to examine the body and form images for further study. CT scans are commonly performed when doctors need cross-sectional images of the internal organs such as the chest cavity, abdominal areas, or the brain. If your doctor needs to perform a pediatric CT, the child may be asked to not eat for several hours prior to the examination so that the images will not be distorted. Children will also have to remain very still and silent during the scan. This can be difficult for some children, so the doctor may be forced to sedate the child if need be. A common practice for CT scans is to administer contrast material so certain growths or blockages can be seen better. Contrast material can be given to a child through an IV, by swallowing the solution, or through an enema. If your child has allergies or a kidney condition, you should inform the doctor or technician prior to the scan.

CT scans do use small amounts of radiation in order to better highlight the different types of structures in the body. Although the dose is relatively small, repeated CT scans can incur a slightly higher risk of cancer. But the advantages in diagnosis that CT scans can provide far outweigh the potential risk. The best way to limit the exposure is to only have CT scans performed when they are essential and to have the mechanisms narrowed onto one part of the child’s body. There are always risk when using sedation and anesthesia with children, so discuss options with your doctor and child.

X-Rays

X-rays are another extremely common medical imaging procedure performed on both adults and children. If your child has a recent injury or needs surgery, doctors will often ask that an X-ray be performed to determine conditions like bones fractures, breaks and growth dysfunctions. X-rays are performed relatively quickly so the time your child spends exposed to the small doses of radiation is limited. Ask your doctor or imaging facility if they use analog X-rays or digital. Digital X-rays use much smaller doses of radioactive material to examine the body.

MRI

MRI or a magnetic resonance imaging procedure, is a imaging practice that doctors will usually perform if the child has a cardiovascular or brain condition, bleeding problems, childhood cancer or a type of growth disorder. MRIs have use no forms of radiation so children are safe to have this procedure performed. MRIs use radio and magnetic waves to excite the atoms within the body and then use computer technology to collect these atoms and form the image of the body. Possible points of discomfort for a child would be remaining still for very long and having contrast material administered.

PET-CT Scans

PET-CT scans are a form of nuclear medicine that doctors use to obtain images for better diagnosis. PET-CT scans use radioactive material in order to create the images that the doctors will use to plan treatment options. This imaging procedure is most often performed if a doctor is concerned about conditions like childhood cancer or cardiovascular and neurological disorders. Doctors will likely only use CT scans or another kind of imaging procedure for children unless the potential information to be gained is essential.

Having any medical imaging procedure performed can be a scary experience for both parents and children. But it is important to remember that these tests are created to improve the health of children. If you have serious reservations or fears, speak with a doctor or technician about all of your questions. Your child cannot ask these questions, so it your job to stay informed and calm so they can stay healthy and happy.

In the Louisiana area? At Doctors Imaging, we’re Radiologists concerned about quality patient care. Scheduling is simple, and you can either do it online, or call 504-883-8111. We look forward to taking care of you and your family.