Radiation in Spine Deformity: State-of-the-Art Reviews

A. Noelle Larson, Beth A. Schueler, Jean Dubousset

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Study Design/Methods: Review article. Objectives: This article will provide an overview regarding measurement of radiation exposure and effects on patients with spinal deformity. Summary of Background Data/Results: Pediatric and adult spinal deformity patients are frequently exposed to diagnostic studies exposing them to ionizing radiation. There is a concern that medical radiation can result in increased cancer risk, particularly in children who will live for a long period of time in which cancer may develop and who have rapidly dividing cells that may be more susceptible to DNA damage. CT imaging imparts 10–100 times higher radiation dosing than standard radiographs. Usage of CT imaging studies is growing in the United States and represents 50% of medical imaging exposure. In addition to the 3 millisieverts (mSv) mean natural background exposure, in the United States, the average American experiences an additional 3 mSv of exposure primarily due to medical diagnostic imaging. Early-onset scoliosis patients are at risk of high cumulative radiation exposure given the young age at diagnosis and frequency of multiorgan system involvement in the case of neuromuscular, congenital, and syndromic patients. Biplanar slot scanning reduces patient radiation exposure, and overall levels of exposure from radiographic imaging is quite low compared with CT imaging or historic radiographs. Specialized pediatric CT dosing protocols result in lower patient absorbed dose. Surgeon and team intraoperative exposure to radiation should always be a concern. Appropriate shielding with a lead apron and minimizing radiation exposure are appropriate strategies. Conclusions: This article will help guide surgeons to make appropriate decisions regarding the need for imaging studies and advocate for low-dose imaging protocols within their facilities. Level of Evidence: V.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)386-394
Number of pages9
JournalSpine deformity
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2019


  • Pediatric
  • Radiation protection
  • Radiographs
  • Spine surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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