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Child safety is goal of Image Gently campaign

September 01, 2014

By Jean Williams

image gently logoReston, Virginia — Children are not tiny adults. This distinction may get lost chairside — during imaging, for instance. With that reality in mind, a new campaign starting Sept. 24 will urge dentists to Image Gently.

Image Gently is a campaign of the Alliance for Radiation Safety in Pediatric Imaging, a united effort involving physicians, radiologists, technologists and physicists, founded in 2007.  The alliance later welcomed dental organizations into the fold, including the ADA.
"We've had six different campaigns, each in different imaging modalities that a patient would encounter," said Marilyn Goske, M.D., Image Gently Alliance co-chair. "One of the powers of this 80-organization alliance group is that when we have a campaign the groups have agreed to send out a blast email to their own members so that we can reach about 800,000 professionals. For the dental campaign, we are absolutely thrilled that there are 10 major dental societies, including the American Dental Association, that have agreed to join the alliance and participate in the campaign to inform their members about the campaign."

The Image Gently in Dentistry campaign spotlights a set of succinct recommendations to help protect kids when radiographs are necessary.

"Every dentist wants to do the right thing," said Dr. Alan Lurie, the dental alliance steering committee co-chair and past president of American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology. "Children are more sensitive to damage from radiation, even small doses, and everything we can do to minimize their radiation dose while maintaining good diagnostic quality of images helps them."

The six steps that can be taken to protect pediatric patients when imaging is necessary are:

  • Select X-rays for individual's needs, not merely as a routine.
  • Use the fastest image receptor possible: E- or F-speed film or digital sensors.
  • Collimate beam to area of interest.
  • Always use thyroid collars.
  • Child-size the exposure time.
  • Use cone-beam CT only when necessary.

"The Image Gently campaign has positively impacted on the safety and efficacy of pediatric imaging in medicine, especially imaging with CT and fluoroscopy," Dr. Lurie said.

The campaign kickoff is scheduled to coincide with the 65th Annual Session of the American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology.

"We will have a presence at the AAOMR meeting as well as the ADA meeting," Dr. Goske said. "The ADA has just been phenomenal in their support. Dr. Greg Zeller, who is on the Image Gently Dental Campaign steering committee, has been a true leader in getting us engaged with the appropriate people within the ADA and ADA leadership has embraced this. We're really thrilled with the amount of support that we're getting."

Dr. Zeller, associate dean for clinical affairs at the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry in Lexington and an active ADA volunteer, said, "The dental steering committee has been working diligently over the last year to create content for this campaign along with promotional and informational materials, such as brochures and ads. The goal is to reduce to the lowest possible dose — as low as reasonably achievable. It's not the same information for each stakeholder group. It's different information for different groups."

Dentists and other dental professionals are familiar with the concept of ALARA — or, as low as reasonably achievable — Dr. Zeller said, but many variables warrant the reminder to Image Gently, including rapidly changing technology.

Dr. Goske agreed, saying, "You may have a dentist who goes from using film-screen technology to using digital technology to do their routine bitewing film, for example." She added, "It's challenging because often the education is difficult to keep up with the changing technology; the technology changes every year."

Aside from embracing medical and dental professionals, the campaign also targets parents to facilitate conversations with medical and dental professionals about their children's treatment.

"That's the nice thing about the campaign," Dr. Zeller said. "It's aimed at educating not only the professional, but it's also aimed at the public and parents."

Along with obtaining educational materials on the alliance's website — or during the AAOMR meeting and ADA 2014 — dental professionals can take a pledge to Image Gently. To learn more about Image Gently, to obtain materials and to take the pledge, visit

Aside from the ADA, other organizations sponsoring or supporting the dental campaign include the American Dental Education Association, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Association of Endodontists, the American Society for Pediatric Radiology, the American College of Radiology, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Society of Radiologic Technologists, the American Association of Physicists in Medicine, the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements, the Canadian Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology and the European Academy of DentoMaxilloFacial Radiology.