Safety in pediatric imaging: an update

Acta Radiol. 2013 Nov;54(9):983-90. doi: 10.1177/0284185113477399. Epub 2013 Apr 30.


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.

Keywords: CT; MRI; Pediatric; radiograph; safety.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / adverse effects
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Patient Safety*
  • Pediatrics / methods*
  • Radiation Injuries / etiology*
  • Radiation, Ionizing
  • Risk
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / adverse effects*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*