Background: In the recent years, clinical progress and better medical assistance for pregnant women, together with the introduction of new complex technologies, has improved the survival of preterm infants. However, this result requires frequent radiological investigations mostly represented by thoracic and abdominal radiographs in incubators. This document was elaborated by an expert panel Italian inter-society working group (Radiologists, Paediatricians, Medical Physicists) with the aim to assist healthcare practitioners in taking choices involving radiation exposures of new-born infants and to provide practical recommendations about justification and optimization in Neonatal Intensive Care Units. The adherence to these practice recommendations could ensure a high quality and patient safety. More complex and less common radiological practice, such as CT scan or fluoroscopy have been excluded. Methods: The consensus was reached starting from current good practice evidence shared by four scientific societies panel: AIFM (Italian Association of Physics in Medicine), SIN (Italian Neonatology Society), SIP (Italian Paediatric Society), SIRM (Italian Medical Radiology Society) in order to guarantee good standard practices for every professional involved in Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU). The report is divided into clinical and physical-dosimetric sections: clinical Indications, good practice in radiological exposures, devices, exposure parameters and modalities, patient positioning and immobilization, Reference Diagnostic Levels, operators and patient’s radiation protection. Another important topic was the evaluation of the different incubators in order to understand if the consequences of the technological evolution have had an impact on the increase of the dose to the small patients, and how to choose the best device in terms of radiation protection. At the end the working group faced the problem of setting up the correct communication between clinicians and parents following the most recent indications of the international paediatric societies. Results: Taking into account the experience and expertise of 10 Italian Centres, the guideline sets out the criteria to ensure a high standard of neonatal care in NICU about procedures, facilities, recommended equipment, quality assurance, radiation protection measures for children and staff members and communication on radiation risk. Conclusions: This document will allow a standardization of the approach to the exposures in NICU, although oriented to a flexible methodology.
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health