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A knowledge resource for patients and caregivers
Children’s hearts beat faster, their bones and organs are not fully developed and they are more sensitive to radiation than adults. Plus, imaging in what to them is a strange apparatus and environment can be unsettling, making it difficult to keep their active bodies still even if they understand necessity. Parents have, therefore, an important role in helping their children receive the lowest dose possible, as well as reassuring and calming them during the examination.
If your child needs an X-ray or scan, talk to the physician about the need for the examination so you understand how the procedure is expected to help. Ask if there are any alternatives to imaging with ionizing radiation, which might still provide sufficient information for an adequate diagnosis.
If your child is old enough, help them understand the procedure beforehand to minimize any fears or anxiety they may have. Immediately prior to the examination, ask the radiographer or medical technician to explain what will happen next. If a protective shield, such as a lead apron, is not used, ask for one to confine the radiation to the area being examined. Double check with the technician that they are using the lowest amount of radiation for the size of your child. Manufacturers provide a variety of dose-efficient components and technologies that enable technicians to customize scan parameters optimally to the patient. You may be allowed to remain in the room with your child but be sure to wear a lead apron yourself. You may even be asked to hold your child in the best position possible for an X-ray, but be sure to clarify with the technician how to avoid any exposure yourself.
Keep a record of your child’s imaging history, including the name and address of the medical facility, date and type of image taken. With this information, you can inform treating physicians of other examinations your child has had. This is especially relevant when your child needs care from different centers or physicians, helping them to decide if examinations are necessary and decreasing the number of repetitive exams.