Original Article

Pediatric Radiology

, Volume 40, Issue 5, pp 681-686

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Estimated cumulative radiation dose from PET/CT in children with malignancies: a 5-year retrospective review

  • Soni C. ChawlaAffiliated withDepartment of Radiology, Olive View-UCLA Medical Center Email author 
  • , Noah FedermanAffiliated withDepartment of Pediatrics, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
  • , Di ZhangAffiliated withDepartment of Biomedical Physics, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
  • , Kristen NagataAffiliated withDepartment of Medicine, Olive View-UCLA Medical Center
  • , Soujanya NuthakkiAffiliated withDepartment of Nuclear Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
  • , Michael McNitt-GrayAffiliated withDepartment of Radiology, David Geffen School of Medicine
  • , M. Ines BoechatAffiliated withDepartment of Radiology, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA



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.

Materials and methods

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.


PET/CT Radiation exposure Cumulative radiation dose Pediatric