Children, medical radiation and the environment: An important dialogue
There are unique considerations in the medical care of children, which includes the use of medical imaging. Medical imaging is frequently necessary and is essential in diagnosis and management of children with illness and injury. Much of medical imaging requires ionizing radiation. While virtually all diagnostic imaging radiation is considered low-dose level, there is still a broad misperception about what modalities use ionizing radiation and how much radiation risk exists in the medical environment. A discussion of radiation exposure is especially relevant in children due to their increased vulnerability, including to radiation-induced cancer. Ionizing radiation is both naturally occurring and man-made, including medical sources that have been increasing over the past few decades and can vary in radiation dose both between different modalities and for similar examinations. Perspectives vary regarding cancer risk and levels of radiation resulting from diagnostic imaging, however most medical and scientific organization support the perspective that the risk of cancer at these levels is uncertain. It is important to have balanced and informed resources for the use of ionizing radiation in the care of children, and it is equally important to assure that the delivery of this content is appropriate to the audience to which it is intended. For these reasons, it is valuable to review the issues related to use of ionizing radiation in medical imaging in children.