Safety in pediatric imaging: an update

Authors: Owen John Arthurs, Alvhild Alette Bjørkum


Many assumptions are made when imaging children. In particular a judgement is made regarding how safe
or unsafe each imaging modality is, using relatively arbitrary definitions and distinctions, due to the lack of
robust scientific data. Here, the latest evidence is reviewed, particularly regarding the medical exposure to
ionizing radiation (X-rays and CT) and MRI in childhood. The best evidence currently available suggests a
small but convincing risk of cumulative low-dose ionizing radiation in children. Given our predictions for the
children imaged today, it seems reasonable to pursue non-ionizing-based techniques wherever possible,
although there is emerging evidence that MRI and ultrasound may have hitherto unknown effects. As our
knowledge base expands, we must continually review our practice in light of the latest scientific data.