Pediatric imagers put dose campaign on the road

July 1, 2008
Yomi Wrong

The Alliance for Radiation Safety in Pediatric Imaging rolled out its Image Gently campaign in January with a successful website launch and maintained that momentum through the first half of 2008 with showings at key medical conferences.

The Alliance for Radiation Safety in Pediatric Imaging rolled out its Image Gently campaign in January with a successful website launch and maintained that momentum through the first half of 2008 with showings at key medical conferences.

As of May, www.imagegently.org had pledges from nearly 1000 imaging providers to minimize CT-related radiation exposure for young patients.

"We've had a really positive response to the website," said alliance chair Dr. Marilyn Goske, chair of the board of directors of the Society for Pediatric Radiology (SPR).

She estimates up to 5000 people have looked at the CT protocols featured on the website, and at least 900 have downloaded the worksheet, suggesting physicians are implementing real change.

Mounting evidence suggests that the increased utilization in recent years of medical imaging, particularly CT, has heightened patients' exposure to ionizing radiation. Radiation protection experts have repeatedly warned that children are more sensitive to radiation than adults because of its cumulative effects.

Meanwhile, 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. It hopes, ultimately, to establish kid-size radiation doses as the standard of care in the U.S.

The multisociety coalition, representing about a half-million medical professionals, took its Image Gently campaign on the road in early 2008, hitting up oncology and emergency medicine conferences with its message.

The first phase of the campaign, which targets radiologists, radiologic technologists, and medical physicists, asks imagers to do three things:

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

The alliance has applied for a grant to create a parent information pamphlet and will soon begin the next phases of the campaigns targeting referring physicians and vendors, Goske said. A summit in August will involve vendors in working on more accurate dose capture in children.

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