FDA issues guidance for lowest possible radiation dose for pediatric x-rays

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a new guidance on Jan. 9 calling for the lowest radiation dose possible for pediatric patient x-ray exams. Additionally, any unnecessary ionizing radiation exposure during medical procedures should be avoided, unless absolutely necessary. 

According to the new guidance, the FDA states that the level of ionizing radiation from x-rays can contribute to an increased risk of cancer in pediatric patients (defined by the FDA 21 years old or younger) even if the level of radiation is generally low.

"Pediatric patients generally require less radiation than adults to obtain a quality image from an x-ray exam, so doctors must take extra care to 'child size' the radiation dose," according to the FDA.

The FDA recommends that CT exams, fluoroscopy, dental and conventional x-rays should be performed on pediatric patients only when a health care professional believes its necessary to further answer clinical questions or initiate treatment.

"The FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) regulates medical imaging devices," according to the FDA. "Among its responsibilities is keeping consumers and health care professionals informed about the importance of minimizing unnecessary radiation exposure during medical procedures."

In addition, the FDA encourages parents and caregivers to keep track of their child's medical imaging history, ask referring physicians about the benefits and risks of imaging procedures, and see if imaging facilities use reduced radiation techniques on pediatric patients.