Radiation risks from pediatric computed tomography scanning

Pediatr Endocrinol Rev. 2009 Dec;7(2):29-36.


Although radiological exams are not frequently used to diagnose unsuspected endocrine disease, computed tomography (CT) plays a significant role in today's endocrinology. Despite the known association between radiation exposure during childhood and cancer, the use of pediatric CT, which delivers non-negligible radiation doses to some organs and tissues, continues to rise sharply. The purpose of this review is to describe the current use of pediatric CT, explain basic concepts in ionizing radiation physics and dosimetry, and discuss potential risks from pediatric CT scans. Finally, we will summarize two recent programs for reducing and controlling exposure to ionizing radiation from pediatric CT: the As Low As Reasonably Achievable (ALARA) concept and the Image Gently initiative. Promoting public awareness and particularly educating referring physicians, including endocrinologists, about the potential radiation-associated risks from CT scans, is essential for reducing unnecessary radiation exposure from CT in children.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / etiology
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / prevention & control
  • Patient Safety*
  • Pediatrics / trends
  • Radiation Effects*
  • Radiation Protection / methods
  • Risk
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / adverse effects*