Diagnosing an adult is different than a child. As the number of procedures has increased, so too has concern about exposure to radiation. Children are more radiosensitive: their organs and cells are growing faster and therefore could be potentially damaged by ionizing radiation.
“Everybody cares about radiation dose, but the most sensitive to radiation are children, because they’re growing,” says Richard Towbin, Chief of Radiology at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. “We have to relate our dose choices and our protocols for imaging to the group of problems we’re trying to solve.”
The range of ages and disease types in a pediatric hospital such as Phoenix Children’s is vast – on one day a radiologist could be conducting an MR scan on a fetus, on another it could be a CT scan on an 18-year-old, 220-pound football player. Whether it is a baby or a teenager, the aim is the same – to provide safety and comfort for the patient and their family throughout the entire imaging procedure.
“Children have different types of cancers and different types of heart disease, and different types of neurologic diseases than an adult might,” says Dianna Bardo, Director of Body MR & Co-Director of 3D Innovation Lab at Phoenix Children’s. “An adult might have a longer time to develop an injury or to develop a disease process, so we’re looking at things in earlier stages, maybe more subtle stages in a child than we are in an adult.”