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SNM approves pediatric radiation dose guidelines

by Heather Mayer, DOTmed News Reporter | October 13, 2010
The Society for Pediatric Radiology's board of directors and SNM recently approved the new North American Guidelines for Radiopharmaceutical Doses for Children, the groups announced Tuesday.

After survey results showed that there were no real standards for administering radiopharmaceuticals to pediatric patients, the groups collaborated to standardize doses for 11 nuclear medicine procedures commonly performed in children. The Alliance for Safety in Pediatric Imaging joined the groups' effort and will help promote the new, lower doses.

The survey showed that "doses given to children were in a very wide range," said Dr. S. Ted Treves, strategy leader of the Image Gently Nuclear Medicine Initiative, chief of nuclear medicine and molecular imaging at Children's Hospital Boston and professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School. "It caused concern and triggered the need to form a working group to try to standardize [the doses] so there will be more uniformity in the practice."

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"One of the reasons why there is such variation is that there are no guidelines for pediatric doses so people relied on their own experience or tradition [when administering radiopharmaceuticals]," Treves told DOTmed News.

The guidelines, Treves said, are supportive of the Image Gently campaign, which aims to raise awareness of the opportunities to lower radiation dose in the imaging of children.

One of the biggest issues the guidelines address is catering radiation dose to a pediatric patient's body size. For the youngest pediatric patients, generally infants, there is one minimum dose that is the same for all patients in this group, regardless of body weight. For pediatric patients slightly older and bigger, administered dose is based on their body weight in kilograms.

"In the recent past, there have been, in the public press and scientific literature, articles concerning the amount of radiation exposure that patients get from principally, CT," said Treves. "The goal of the group was to see if we can at least standardize doses so that people who are not familiar with imaging pediatric patients at least have guidelines that say, 'this is the dose you should use.'"

The guidelines are targeted toward nuclear medicine physicians and radiologists who deal with pediatric patients. But there is also information, largely from Image Gently, available for patients and their parents.

The guidelines are being submitted to the Journal of Nuclear Medicine to better reach the targeted audience.

"This is a great accomplishment," said Dr. Dominique Delbeke, SNM's president, in prepared remarks. "SNM practice guidelines are in the process of being updated and the new SNM guidelines will incorporate the doses recommended in the North American Guidelines for Radiopharmaceutical Dose for Children."