Protecting sensitive patient groups from imaging using ionizing radiation: effects during pregnancy, in fetal life and childhood

  • Paolo TomàEmail author
  • Alessandra Bartoloni
  • Sergio Salerno
  • Claudio Granata
  • Vittorio Cannatà
  • Andrea Magistrelli
  • Owen J. Arthurs


The frequency of imaging examinations requiring radiation exposure in children (especially CT) is rapidly increasing. This paper reviews the current evidence in radiation protection in pediatric imaging, focusing on the recent knowledge of the biological risk related to low doses exposure. Even if there are no strictly defined limits for patient radiation exposure, it is recommended to try to keep doses as low as reasonably achievable (the ALARA principle). To achieve ALARA, several techniques to reduce the radiation dose in radiation-sensitive patients groups are reviewed. The most recent recommendations that provide guidance regarding imaging of pregnant women are also summarized, and the risk depending on dose and phase of pregnancy is reported. Finally, the risk-benefit analysis of each examination, and careful communication of this risk to the patient, is emphasized.


Pediatric radiology Radiation protection Computed tomography Radiation-induced cancer Child Pregnancy 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animal performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Italian Society of Medical Radiology 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento Diagnostica per Immagini, Ospedale Pediatrico Bambino GesùIRCCSRomeItaly
  2. 2.Dipartimento di Diagnostica per ImmaginiPoliclinico Università degli Studi di PalermoPalermoItaly
  3. 3.UOC Radiologia - Ospedale Pediatrico Giannina GasliniGenoaItaly
  4. 4.Servizio Prevenzione e Protezione/Fisica Sanitaria, Ospedale Pediatrico Bambino GesùIRCCSRomeItaly
  5. 5.Department of Clinical RadiologyGreat Ormond Street Hospital for Children, NHS Foundation TrustLondonUK

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