Medical radiation exposure in children with inflammatory bowel disease estimates high cumulative doses

Cary G. Sauer, Subra Kugathasan, Diego R. Martin, Kimberly E. Applegate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Background: Children with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) undergo imaging using ionizing radiation and may be exposed to high cumulative radiation. We hypothesized that children with IBD have high exposure to radiation from medical imaging. Methods: An Institutional Review Board (IRB)-approved retrospective chart review from 2002-2008 was performed on all patients with IBD. Radiographic studies performed were recorded and exposure for each study was estimated. Results: A total of 117 children with IBD (86 Crohn's disease [CD], 31 ulcerative colitis [UC]) were evaluated. The median current exposure was 15.1 mSv in CD and 7.2 mSv in UC (P = 0.005). Computed tomography (CT) scan and small bowel follow-through (SBFT) were responsible for 43% and 36% of all radiation exposures, respectively. The rate of radiation was higher in CD compared to UC (4.3 versus 2.2 mSv/yr). In CD, the rate of exposure was highest in the first 3 years of diagnosis (8.2 mSv/yr), and no different between the 3-5 year follow-up and 5+ year follow-up groups (3.8 versus 4.3 mSv/yr). Using the annual dose rate in those followed for more than 3 years, an estimated 47 out of 78 (60%) children (40 CD, 7 UC) would exceed 50 mSv by 35 years of age. Conclusions: Radiation exposure from medical imaging is high in a subset of children diagnosed with IBD. Estimation of radiation exposure at age 35 suggests a significant portion of children with IBD will have high radiation exposure in their lifetime. Nonionizing imaging such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ultrasound should be offered to children with IBD as an alternative to current imaging that employs radiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2326-2332
Number of pages7
JournalInflammatory bowel diseases
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2011


  • Crohn's disease
  • IBD
  • children
  • radiation exposure
  • ulcerative colitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Gastroenterology


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