Experts are worried too many unnecessary X-rays are being used on infants with common respiratory conditions like bronchiolitis and asthma.

Medical experts are calling for a re-think of the procedure’s used in children as part of the latest recommendations of the Choosing Wisely initiative launched on Monday by NPS MedicineWise.

Emergency department physician Dr Sarah Dalton, RACP Paediatrics & Child Health Division President, says in some cases X-rays are happening “too frequently”, placing the child at harm, reports AAP.

“Unfortunately what we see is that so many of these children that come in to emergency departments with breathing problems and are having chest X-rays that doesn’t really change the treatment that we offer but it does put them at risk of the radiation that is associated with the X-ray and that is what we are trying to stop,” Dr Dalton told AAP.

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Dr Dalton said very rarely does an X-ray change the treatment of a child with typical bronchiolitis – a common condition in babies where they get a virus that makes it hard to breathe.

An X-ray should always be ordered if a doctor suspects pneumonia, a complication of bronchiolitis, she said.

“But there really is only a very small number of children who when I listen to their chest I think they do need a chest X-ray, in most situations when we examine children with this kind of problem there is no indication of it being pneumonia and therefore they don’t really need the X-ray,” Dr Dalton told AAP.

“One of the studies showed that if you do 100 X-rays for children with bronchiolitis it will only change the treatment course for one child.”

Dr Dalton is calling on her fellow doctors to “pause for a second” before recommending an X-ray.

“The challenge is working out when they’re needed and when they’re not,” she said.

“For any parents who might be concerned about the idea that ‘less can sometimes be more’, I would say to them we want to make sure we are only ordering a test when it is medically beneficial for your child.”

Never feel embarrassed to ask the question, “is it really necessary?” YOU are your child’s best advocate x

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  • What would the outcome be for the one child in 100 who’s chest xray changes their treatment if they didn’t get that xray?


  • I think it’s good that there are doctors who pause before recommending an X-ray, idem for anti-biotics.
    One thing I do know that bronchiolitis can look scary. My youngest was 4 times hospitalized with a bronchiolitis, under which once at Intensive Care for a week.


  • A good idea to ask if it is really necessary.


  • you would think that they would only be given if truly needed. these days, most doctors spend more time looking at their computers while inputing the symptoms, while the old fashioned, well trained doctors with experience, will actually spend their time listening and looking physically. choose a reputable doctor


  • I can see and justify the point this doctor is making but if we can’t trust the judgement of our doctors, who do we turn to when needed?
    Tooo many Xrays tooo many unnecessary antibiotics being given, these doctors need to step up and get it right.


  • If they are not really necessary, better to avoid them indeed!!


  • Luckily we have never had to experience many x-rays.

    • The ones we had actually did confirm a diagnosis – so in our case it has been a good thing.


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