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Radiation Protection in Pediatric Radiology
04 July 2011
Deutsches Aerzteblatt International
The risk to children’s health from X-ray radiation is easy to reduce without compromising diagnostic accuracy. Gerhard Alzen and Gabriele Benz-Bohm describe some ways to achieve this in the current edition of Deutsches Ärzteblatt International (Dtsch Arztebl Int 2011; 108: 407-14]).
The radiation risk is higher for children than for adults, as children’s tissues have a higher cell division rate, and cells can be damaged during this process. Children’s bodies also have a higher water content and therefore absorb more radiation, which can cause damage to their genes.
Pediatric doses of radiation should always comply with the ALARA (as low as reasonably achievable) principle. Radiation-induced damage can be reduced by the selection of an appropriate procedure, the technical specifications of the X-ray machine, use of the shortest possible scan times despite short target times, and the use of modern storage-plate systems. The child being examined can also help ensure that no additional images are needed by lying still, which, as the authors report, sometimes requires fixation devices.
However, one simple and important method of providing radiation protection is the correct use and positioning of layers of lead rubber to protect areas such as the gonads or eyes.