LONG BRANCH, NJ, July 15, 2008 – When it comes to children and radiation, one size definitely does not fit all. But as a parent, would you think to ask your hospital or radiology center if pediatric doses of radiation are being used before your child undergoes a CT scan? Probably not. Fortunately, if your child comes to Monmouth Medical Center, you don’t have to ask.
That’s because Monmouth Medical Center was the first hospital in the state of New Jersey and was the sixth in the country to receive a prestigious accreditation from the American College of Radiology pertaining to appropriate doses of radiation being used for pediatric imaging. In addition, the hospital participates in the “Image Gently” program, an initiative of the Alliance for Radiation Safety in Pediatric Imaging. The goal is to lower radiation doses in the imaging of children. The Image Gently campaign was founded by four professional bodies: the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM); the Society for Pediatric Radiology (SPR); the American College of Radiology; and the American Society of Radiologic Technologists.
Children in particular are sensitive to radiation and over time, increased exposure could cause long term effects to their developing bodies. While imaging scans are often necessary to accurately diagnose injury or illness in children, not all imaging facilities who image children take into account a child’s smaller size, weight and mass and as a result, radiation exposure is much greater than needed.
According to Monmouth Medical Center physicist Thomas Piccoli, Ed.D., DABR, “We have been dedicated to using smaller does of radiation for children long before the Image Gently campaign began. In fact, we have been accredited for five years in Computed Tomography (CT) by the American College of Radiology, which sets the gold standard for imaging procedures and facilities.”
According to statistics, more than eight million children undergo CT scans every year. A CT scan, often referred to as a “CAT Scan” is a test that uses x-rays and computer analysis to depict three-dimensional pictures of the inside of the body. Particularly useful in studying soft tissue and organs, CT scans use multiple x-rays of the body taken at different angles in a very short period of time. These images are collected by a computer and provide a series of cross-sectional “slices” for the radiologist to review.
While no one can say for sure that someone’s cancer was caused by medical radiation, there is evidence that illustrates exposure to radiation levels found during CT scans may slightly increase the risk of future cancer. Piccoli asserts, that the risk of radiation exposure should not prevent parents from having the test for their child. “Like any medical test, the beneficial information gained from the test should outweigh the risk of having the test performed. CT is a very powerful and valuable imaging technique for both children and adults that can provide important and even life-saving information.”
That is why, Piccoli said, it is extremely important for parents to find out if the facility performing the CT scan on their child is using adult or pediatric doses of radiation. “You won’t know unless you ask. And it is completely within your rights as a parent and a patient to do so.”
To protect children even further at Monmouth Medical Center, the radiology department uses even less radiation on pediatric patients than is even recommended by the ACR. “We use half the radiation for pediatric CT scans as is recommended by the ACR,” Piccoli said. While some may question if this affects the quality of the scan, Piccoli explained that the radiologists at Monmouth are so astute in reading the images that the reduced dose does not affect their ability to interpret the scan.
Adding to the already renowned staff of radiologists at Monmouth Medical Center is David W. McDonald, MD, a board-certified pediatric radiologist. Dr. McDonald earned his medical degree at Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine, and his internship at St. Vincent’s Mercy Medical Center in Ohio. After completing his residency training at Monmouth Medical Center, Dr. McDonald completed a fellowship in pediatric radiology at the prestigious Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).
Richard Ruchman, MD, chairman of Radiology at Monmouth Medical Center said, “It is an honor to have Dr. McDonald come back to Monmouth Medical Center to join our radiology staff. Since we are a designated children’s hospital, having Dr. McDonald’s expertise in pediatric radiology only serves to enhance the services we offer to children of this region.”
“Both the Image Gently program and the addition of a pediatric radiologist in Dr. McDonald clearly reflects that the breadth and depth of pediatric services at The Children’s Hospital at Monmouth Medical Center is unrivaled in the region,” said Margaret Fisher, M.D., chair of Pediatrics and medical director of The Children’s Hospital.
Monmouth Medical Center’s Diagnostic Imaging capabilities include state-of-the-art imaging facilities and equipment and a team of highly qualified radiologists, specializing in traditional diagnostic radiology and the most advanced interventional radiological procedures. To learn more about the breadth of radiology services available at Monmouth Medical Center, visit www.mmcradiology.com.
“Monmouth Medical Center is committed to providing the safest, most appropriate imaging technology and service to both adults and children,” said Anna Burian, assistant vice president of Operations at Monmouth Medical Center. “We will continue to be a leader in pediatric imaging and participate in the Image Gently campaign so parents can rest assured their children are getting not only the highest, but safest level of care at our hospital.”
For more information or to schedule a diagnostic imaging exam which requires a prescription from you primary care physician, call (732) 923-6800.
CONTACT: Kristine A. Brown
Director of Public Relations
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