The increasing use of serial PET/CT scans in the management of pediatric malignancies raises the important consideration of radiation exposure in children.
To estimate the cumulative radiation dose from PET/CT studies to children with malignancy and to compare with the data in literature.
Two hundred forty-eight clinical PET/CT studies performed on 78 patients (50 boys/28 girls, 1.3 to 18 years old from December 2002 to October 2007) were retrospectively reviewed under IRB approval. The whole-body effective dose (ED) estimates for each child were obtained by estimating the effective dose from each PET/CT exam performed using the ImPACT Patient Dosimetry Calculator for CT and OLINDA for PET.
The average number of PET/CT studies was 3.2 per child (range: 1 to 14 studies). The average ED of an individual CT study was 20.3 mSv (range: 2.7 to 54.2), of PET study was 4.6 mSv (range: 0.4 to 7.7) and of PET/CT study was 24.8 mSv (range: 6.2 to 60.7). The average cumulative radiation dose per patient from CT studies was 64.4 mSv (range: 2.7 to 326), from PET studies was 14.5 mSv (range: 2.8 to 73) and from PET/CT studies was 78.9 mSv (range: 6.2 to 399).
The radiation exposure from serial PET/CT studies performed in pediatric malignancies was considerable; however, lower doses can be used for both PET and CT studies. The ALARA principle must be applied without sacrificing diagnostic information.