4 Common Questions About Imaging Tests and Kids

doctor examining a child in a hospital

Pediatric radiologists have a number of tools to help them quickly and accurately diagnose a child’s orthopedic illness or injury.

Most families are familiar with X-ray and ultrasound exams used to see inside a child’s body, but they may not be as familiar with other imaging techniques.

1. What Are Safe Radiation Levels for Children?

With the recent national media spotlight on radiation exposure, many parents may be concerned about what levels of exposure are appropriate for children. While the amount of exposure has been extensively studied to determine safe levels, you should consult with your doctor if you or your child have any concerns.

The amount of radiation used in tests performed by pediatric radiologists is very small, and the amount of exposure that a child receives won’t put them at an increased risk for negative side-effects.

2. What Is a CT Scan?

A computed tomography (CT) scan is a method of taking a series of detailed images of the inside of a child’s body using X-rays. These scans are fairly quick, and don’t cause any pain.

3. What Is an MRI?

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a technique where a large magnet and radio waves are used in conjunction with a computer to make a detailed image to gain insights into children’s orthopedic conditions. It doesn’t use radiation or cause pain, though it can take a while to complete.

4. How Do I Help my Child Prepare for Their Appointment?

It’s important to talk to your child about what they can expect during an orthopedic imaging session. If they’re undergoing a CT scan or MRI be sure to remind them that they will have to lie very still during the test. Your doctor and pediatric radiologist will provide more specific information about your child’s test.