Childhood Cancer

Few children grow up without having x-rays to check for a broken bone or to look for cavities in teeth. If your child needs an x-ray, ask the doctor or x-ray technician to explain it thoroughly before you proceed. After the explanation, the technician will position your child on an x-ray table with the machine angled over him to get the best view. For a chest x-ray, your child will be strapped in a seated position.

Positioning an injured limb for x-rays may sometimes be painful. Most technicians try to minimize the pain, but you may have to explain to your child that he may be uncomfortable for a few moments while the technician positions his broken limb. Make sure that your child understands the x-ray itself will not hurt.

The technician will place a heavy lead apron over the rest of the child’s body to avoid exposure to radiation.

My four-year-old daughter Claire needed sinus x-rays. I asked the technician to shield her chest and thyroid, but they didn’t have a shield her size. When the technician there tried to minimize my concerns by comparing x-rays to radiation exposure from a television, I told her that I was a radiation therapist and I knew better. So, we ended up having the technician stay in the room, holding the adult shield in front of Claire’s thyroid and chest, while the x-ray was taken.

When your child is in place, the technician will leave the room and will ask you to do the same. Parents and technicians usually can watch the child through a window and often there is a two-way intercom. Explaining the window and intercom can help your child stay calm.

Some children enjoy looking at their x-rays. If your child shows an interest, ask whether the doctor or technician can display the x-rays and give an explanation—it’s a fun chance for your child to look at her insides.