January 24, 2008 - "Image Gently" Alliance to Educate Providers to "Child-Size" Radiation Dose for Pediatric Imaging Care

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Reston, Va. – As medical imaging exams have replaced more invasive procedures, benefiting patients and revolutionizing medicine, Americans' exposure to medical radiation has increased, raising concerns among imaging providers. Particularly, children are more sensitive to radiation received from imaging scans than adults and cumulative radiation exposure to their smaller, developing bodies could, over time, have adverse effects.

Therefore, providers who perform imaging exams on children are urged to:

  • Significantly reduce, or "child-size," the amount of radiation used
  • Not over-scan:
    • Scan only when necessary
    • Scan only the indicated region
    • Scan once; multi phase scanning (pre-and post contrast, delayed exams) is rarely helpful
  • Be a team player:
    • Involve medical physicists to monitor pediatric CT techniques
    • Involve technologists to optimize scanning

These are the central messages of the "Image Gently" campaign (www.imagegently.org) launched today by the Society for Pediatric Radiology (SPR), the American College of Radiology (ACR), the American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT) and the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM), founding members of the Alliance for Radiation Safety in Pediatric Imaging.

"Children are not just 'smaller adults.' Their bodies are different and require a different approach to imaging," said Marilyn Goske, M.D., chair of the Alliance for Radiation Safety in Pediatric Imaging, board chair of the SPR and Silverman Chair for Radiology Education and staff radiologist at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. "Ultimately, we hope to change the way all children are imaged in the United States, using kid-size, not adult-sized radiation doses. It's an ambitious goal, but one that we feel must be achieved."

The Image Gently campaign will initially focus on computed tomography (CT) scans. There were approximately 4 million pediatric CT scans performed in 2006. In fact, the number of pediatric CT scans performed in the United States has tripled in the last five years as rapidly evolving CT technology replaces more invasive and often more costly techniques. The Image Gently campaign is an effort to help ensure that medical protocols for the imaging of children keep pace with advancing technology.

"As the stewards of nearly 100 years of radiology safety knowledge, radiologists are committed to ensuring that patients receive safe, necessary imaging care," said Arl Van Moore Jr., M.D., FACR, chair of the ACR Board of Chancellors. "The Image Gently campaign is an important opportunity for radiologists to help referring physicians and medical imaging professionals understand which exams may be most appropriate for children and how these exams may be carried out in a safe, effective manner."

The Image Gently Alliance Web site (www.imagegently.org) contains the latest research and educational materials to aid radiologists, radiologic technologists, medical physicists, and other imaging stakeholders in determining the appropriate radiation techniques to be used in the imaging of children and how the radiation received from these exams may affect pediatric patients over time. A key feature of the new Web site is a library of helpful protocols that can be used for the imaging of children.

"Although CT provides outstanding images that are critical to the management of patient care, it is one of the higher dose examinations performed today," said Mary Martel, Ph.D., president of the AAPM. "For this reason, it is most important that physicians have a firm understanding of the physics and technology of CT to enable them to judiciously select imaging parameters to eliminate unnecessary doses to these children."

The four charter members of the Alliance — the SPR, the ACR, the ASRT, and the AAPM — represent more than 160,000 physicians, radiologic technologists and medical physicists who serve a primary role in medical imaging.

Nine affiliate organizations have joined the effort to publicize the Image Gently campaign to their members. Through e-mail messages to their affiliate members and articles in professional society publications, the Image Gently campaign is estimated to reach more than 500,000 medical professionals.

"Radiologic technologists are the final link in the chain of exposure as they perform CT scans," said Connie Mitchell, M.A., R.T. (R)(CT), ASRT president. "The Image Gently campaign provides a powerful forum for the ASRT to communicate to its members the importance of applying the correct protocol for size and body type of the patient."

The Image Gently campaign is partially funded by an unrestricted educational grant from General Electric (GE) Healthcare.

Image Gently Alliance member organizations:

  • Society for Pediatric Radiology
  • American College of Radiology
  • American Association of Physicists in Medicine
  • American Society of Radiologic Technologists
  • 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 Measurement
  • Radiological Society of North America
  • Society of Computed Body Tomography and Magnetic Resonance

Contact Information

Shawn Farley, 703-648-8936, sfarley@acr.org or Amy Caruso, 513-636-5637, amy.caruso@cchmc.org