Medical radiation exposure (1505)

Key points below

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:

MRI and ultrasound exams do not use radiation. 

Where does it 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:

What can you do?

Discuss 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

For other health and wellness information, check out this resource: