Image Gently alliance seeks to reduce pediatric CT radiation dose

January 22, 2008

The Alliance for Radiation Safety in Pediatric Imaging, a group representing about a half-million medical professionals, has launched today the Image Gently campaign with the motto “Be wise. Adjust for size.” The alliance aims to raise awareness on the need to child-size radiation doses from pediatric CT scans to reduce the possible harmful effects of cumulative radiation exposure over time.

The Alliance for Radiation Safety in Pediatric Imaging, a group representing about a half-million medical professionals, has launched today the Image Gently campaign with the motto "Be wise. Adjust for size." The alliance aims to raise awareness on the need to child-size radiation doses from pediatric CT scans to reduce the possible harmful effects of cumulative radiation exposure over time.Mounting evidence suggests the increased utilization in recent years of medical imaging, particularly CT, has heightened patients' exposure to ionizing radiation. Radiation protection experts have repeatedly warned physicians, who are responsible for pediatric radiography, that children are more sensitive to radiation than adults because of its cumulative effects. To date, however, no comprehensive effort regarding pediatric radiation safety has involved all the organizations representing the specialists who participate in pediatric imaging, said Dr. Marilyn Goske, alliance chair.About a year and a half ago, Goske, as chair of the board of directors of the Society for Pediatric Radiology, contacted representatives of the American College of Radiology, the American Society of Radiologic Technologists, and the American Association of Physicists in Medicine. In July 2007, the four founding groups agreed upon their key message. They later earned an education grant from GE Healthcare, put together the Image Gently website, and prepared to launch the campaign.

The first phase will target radiologists, radiologic technologists, and medical physicists, according to Goske. These providers will be encouraged to

  • reduce significantly the amount of radiation used in pediatric CT
  • scan when necessary, do it once, and scan only the indicated region
  • work together to optimize and monitor pediatric CT scanning

"We hope to change practice," Goske said. "We know that these healthcare providers want to do the right thing. But they primarily do imaging for adults. We hope to give them straightforward information and resources so they know what they need to do to take care of children in the best way possible."The number of pediatric CT scans has tripled in the last five years, according to the alliance. About four million pediatric CT scans were performed in 2007.The Alliance's long-term goal is to ensure that medical protocols for pediatric imaging keep pace with advancing technologies. Its ultimate goal is to establish kid-size radiation doses as the standard of care in the U.S., Goske said.Image Gently is not intended to be a scare campaign or a move to humiliate or punish physicians, said Dr. Donald P. Frush, chief of pediatric radiology at Duke University and chair of the ACR Pediatric Commission. "We want this to be a cooperative effort, with a positive tone that gives people helpful information about how to do things better," Frush said.The Image Gently campaign will focus initially on CT. Future phases will include other ionizing radiation imaging modalities, and it will eventually address the utilization of alternative nonionizing medical imaging modalities such as MRI and ultrasound, Frush said. The four charter members of the Alliance represent more than 160,000 physicians, radiologic technologists, and medical physicists. Nine affiliate organizations have joined the effort: the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Osteopathic College of Radiology, American Registry of Radiologic Technologists, American Roentgen Ray Society, Association of University Radiologists, Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors, National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements, RSNA, and Society of Computed Body Tomography and Magnetic Resonance. Alliance officials estimate the Image Gently campaign could reach more than 500,000 medical professionals. For more information from the Diagnostic Imaging archives:Pediatric CT dose reduction strategies get global focusRadiation spotlight shows jump in pregnancy imagingNEJM article blames CT-related radiation for up to 2% of cancers in U.S.Dose-saving strategies play catch up to greater CT use