“Child-size” the Radiopharmaceutical Doses Administered to Your Patients
Nuclear medicine tests are often essential in diagnosing illness in children, impacting their treatment and improving outcomes. As the nuclear medicine physician or radiologist, you play a key role as an advocate for children. By logging onto this website, you have already demonstrated your commitment to improve radiation protection for kids. It is the collective duty of all members of the healthcare team to ensure that every imaging study in pediatric patients is thoughtful, appropriate and indicated. This website provides simple educational resources to radiology and nuclear medicine practices for improving radiation protection for children.
Be Every Child’s Advocate
There is now a growing awareness of the opportunities to lower radiation dose in children without compromising the diagnostic quality. Encourage parents to ask questions and then direct them to this website.
5 Simple Steps to Improve Patient Care in Your Daily Practice
- Perform only appropriate exams. Discussing the clinical situation with the referring physician can often be beneficial to choose the right exam for each patient. Embedded decision support in electronic ordering may also reduce inappropriate imaging.
- Increase awareness within the imaging facility and the institution for the need of lowering radiation dose to children during nuclear medicine procedures.
- Be committed to make a change in your daily practice by working as a team with your technologists, physicist, referring doctors and parents to decrease the radiation dose!
- As you work to decrease the administered dose to children, you also reduce the dose to the personnel in the room, thus promoting safety for the entire health care team!
- Follow expert guidelines:
2014 Update of North American Consensus Guidelines for Pediatric administered Radiopharmaceutical activities
- Appropriate patient preparation is crucial for image quality. Any measure that can calm the child prior to start of imaging will help keep the child quiet and still during the imaging study.
- Different imaging studies warrant certain protocols; please see the following references below for more details.
Treves ST (2007). Introduction. In Treves ST (Ed.), Pediatric Nuclear Medicine/PET, 3rd Edition (pp 1-15). New York: Springer.
Kaste SC (2004). Issues specific to implementing PET CT for pediatric oncology: what we have learned along the way. Pediatr Radiol, 34(3), 205-213.
Alessio, A. M., Kinahan, P. E., Manchanda, V., Ghioni, V., Aldape, L., & Parisi, M. T. (2009). Weight-based, low-dose pediatric whole-body PET/CT protocols. J Nucl Med, 50 (10), 1570-1577
SNM and combined SNM and ACR practice guidelines
List of procedures
Optimal imaging protocols and post processing (prepared by Adam Alessio PhD, DABSNM)
Radiation Dose and Risk
- Radiation dose may be different in children as compared to adults due to patient size, organ size and orientation and organ distribution of administered radiopharmaceutical.
- Estimates of critical organ and effective dose in common pediatric nuclear medicine procedures are listed in the table below. However please note that these estimates are averages over a wide range of patients at each age and do not take into consideration individual differences in anatomy and physiology from the standard models.
- Assessing the risk associated with exposure to ionizing radiation involves applying models that use both epidemiologic and biologic data to extrapolate from the available data to the dosimetric region of interest. Such extrapolation is not straightforward.
- Much of the current understanding about the risk of exposure to ionizing radiation for humans is based on the Life Span Study of the survivors of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as reported by the Radiation Effects Research Foundation.
- The consensus is to assume that the risk at the lower doses with medical radiation can best be estimated by a linear extrapolation from higher doses for radiation protection purposes.
- It has become increasingly more important that nuclear medicine practitioners—including physicians, physicists, technologists, and other members of patient care teams effectively communicate with the referring providers and with patients and families about the medical use of radiation, the level of radiation exposure, and the potential risk.
Outline: Radiation Dose and Risk in Pediatric Nuclear Medicine
- Frederic H. Fahey, DSc, S. Ted Treves, MD and S. James Adelstein
Minimizing and Communicating Radiation Risk in Pediatric Nuclear Medicine
- Fahey FH, Treves ST, Adelstein SJ.
J Nucl Med. 2011; 52:1240-1251.
Additional Reading Material and Resources
SNM and combined SNM and ACR practice guidelines
The Society for Pediatric Radiology (SPR)
American College of Radiology pediatric imaging appropriateness criteria
Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI)
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP)
Image Wisely- Radiation safety in adult medical imaging