By Cheri Hinshelwood
The pictures used to diagnose and treat medical conditions today are so advanced, we can spot irregularities in a beating heart or find internal injuries.
“It used to be the prettier, more detailed the image, the better,” said Bret Sleight, MD, Pediatric Radiology Medical Director, Mission Hospital. Yet more detailed images come with higher radiation dose. At Mission Hospital, we’re answering medical questions at the lowest possible radiation exposure.
Radiation dose adds up over time, and children are more sensitive to radiation than adults. That’s why limiting radiation exposure in children is so important, said Dr. Sleight.
Mission Hospital’s approach is to image gently. The Image Gently campaign is a national effort named for its intent to reduce radiation dose in children. A foundation of the campaign is a personal pledge made by each imaging technician to be their patients’ advocate, ask the right questions and limit radiation dose.
“To protect patients, we scan as little of the body as possible, shield sex organs, improve protocols and opt for tests with no radiation such as ultrasounds and MRIs, when possible,” said Dr. Sleight. These measures reduce radiation exposure for our youngest patients. We also routinely confirm imaging equipment meets stringent performance standards.
“Our dedicated pediatric radiologists collaborate with other pediatric providers to select the best imaging options to limit exposure for their patients and still provide the information needed,” said Libby Dore, Mission Health Executive Director of Radiology.
While this effort started with children, it’s really good for everyone. “We should all only seek the tests and quality images to answer the medical questions we’re faced with,” said Dr. Sleight.
Imaging Tips for Parents
- Ask physicians questions about any radiology testing to learn the risks and benefits.
- Ask if the test will change the course of treatment. If the answer is no, perhaps the test is not needed.
- If your child has a chronic condition, like cystic fibrosis or recurring bowel disorder like Crohn’s disease, track the number and date of each radiologic tests such as CTs.
- Ask for a Mission Health “My Child’s Medical Imaging Record” to make logging studies easy.
Bret Sleight, MD, is Pediatric Radiology Medical Director at Mission Hospital. Libby Dore is Executive Director of Radiology at Mission Health.