Assessing and conveying risks and benefits of imaging in neonates using ionizing radiation and sedation/anesthesia

Gary R. Schooler, Joseph P. Cravero, Michael J. Callahan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Neonates represent a unique subset of the pediatric population that requires special attention and careful thought when implementing advanced cross-sectional imaging with CT or MRI. The ionizing radiation associated with CT and the sedation/anesthesia occasionally required for MRI present risks that must be balanced against the perceived benefit of the imaging examination in the unique and particularly susceptible neonatal population. We review the perceived risks of ionizing radiation and the more concrete risks of sedation/anesthesia in term and preterm neonates in the context of an imaging paradigm. When the expected diagnostic yield from CT and MRI is similar, and sedation is required for MRI but not for CT, CT likely has the higher benefit-to-risk ratio in the neonate. However, despite the risks, the most appropriate imaging modality should always be chosen after thoughtful consideration is given to each unique patient and informed discussions including radiology, anesthesia, neonatology and the parents/caregivers are pursued.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)616-621
Number of pages6
JournalPediatric radiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • Anesthesia
  • Computed tomography
  • Ionizing radiation
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Neonates
  • Sedation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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