You rush your child to the ER with stomach pains and the first thing they want to do is send him in for a CT scan. What should you do?
That's a good question. And it should be followed by some more questions -- directed at the doctor who is ordering the scan. Since you can't plan your emergencies, it's a good idea to write these down and slip them into your wallet in case you ever need them. Look the doctor straight in the eye and ask:
- Will you be reducing the radiation dose according to my child's size? It is essential that the facility has a method of reducing the dose for children and teenagers.
- Are there any non-radiation types of tests that could be run first? Your goal is to lessen the risk of radiation exposure for your child ... sometimes it is absolutely necessary, and sometimes it is not.
- Is your facility accredited with the American College of Radiology or the Intersocietal Commission for Accreditation?
- What kind of credentials do the imaging technologists have?
- Do you have a pediatric radiologist on staff?
- Will I be able to go into the scanner room with my child?
According to Virginia C. Calega, MD, vice president of Medical Management and Policy at Highmark, "Children are at greater risk of developing future cancers than adults from a given dose of ionizing radiation. It's because their young bodies are more radiosensitive and because they have more remaining years of life, during which radiation-induced cancers could develop. Also, children's bodies are growing, which means their cells are dividing more rapidly than in adults. This results in a greater opportunity for radiation to disrupt the growing process."
Especially susceptible is the abdomen because the digestive organs are more sensitive to the radiation than is the brain. Of course, the above questions need to be asked in the case of a PET scan or a nuclear stress test (myocardial perfusion imaging) as well.
Granted, there may be times your little one will need to be scanned. Just be sure it is absolutely necessary and that reduced levels of radiation are used.
Then pray ...
Keeping your little ones safe whenever possible,