Medical radiation exposure

Radiation poster - Click to enlarge

What is radiation?

Radiation is a form of energy used in common medical tests. These tests help the doctor diagnose or treat a problem by providing clear images. Common tests that use radiation are:

  • X-rays
  • Fluoroscopy exams
  • CT scans
  • Nuclear medicine exams
  • Many interventional radiology exams

MRI and ultrasound exams do not use radiation.

Pediatric imaging facility infographic - Click image to enlarge

Where does radiation come from?

Natural radiation is found in food, the air, and the ground. It even comes from space. A medical test adds a very small amount of radiation compared to the natural sources.

Are there risks that come with exposure?

Exposure to high doses of radiation increases the risk of cancer and other damage to our bodies. Medical tests have a very low dose. The added cancer risk, for most medical tests, is so small that it can't be measured.

Your child's safety is our highest priority

Special skills are needed to take medical images of children. Children's Wisconsin imaging staff have these special skills. This means we take fewer pictures. We are always looking for new ways to improve safety and quality. To do this, we:

  • Invest in technologies and equipment that reduce radiation exposure
  • Reduce the dose of radiation to the lowest amount possible for each child. We use just enough to get high quality images

For more information about the use of medical radiation in children, please see the Image Gently website at

What can you do?

Image Gently website logoDiscuss planned imaging tests and alternatives with your doctor. Ask questions such as:

  • Is this test really needed are there other options?
  • What information will this test give you?
  • How will it help my child's care?
  • What happens if the test is not done?

Keep a record of the medical imaging tests that your child has had. This may help prevent having the same test done twice. You can find a printable imaging record at

Make an appointment

To make an appointment, call our Central Scheduling team or request an appointment online.

(877) 607-5280

Request an appointment

Haga clic aquí para ver esta página en español

Center of Excellence

American College of Radiology's ACR Radiology Award iconDiagnostic Imaging Center of Excellence logo

Children's Wisconsin's imaging department was re-designated as a Diagnostic Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiology. Our imaging department was the third children's hospital in the nation to receive this prestigious credential.