Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Low Radiation X-Ray Systems Protect (And Entertain) Kids

Jake Harper/WFYI


A single X-ray or CT scan exposes a person to just a tiny bit of radiation, but over time, that exposure can add up to increased rates of cancer -- especially for kids. Now, patients at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis have a new option.

It looks sort of like a futuristic shower, but it's not. It's an X-ray system known as EOS. The machine can take two X-rays at once and construct a 3-D image, but the best part is that it uses much less radiation than traditional scans.

Dr. Karen Myung, a surgeon who specializes in alignment issues in kids, says that makes a huge difference.

“Often these children who have scoliosis or limb alignment issues need multiple images during their growing years, because the scoliosis or the limb alignment issue can change as they grow,” she says. “So with each image, we’re reducing the dose.” 

EOS machines like the one at Riley are expensive — they cost about $1 million apiece — and the hospital had to wait more than a year to get this one. It’s one of only 34 in the whole country.

Myung and her colleagues have been using it for just a few weeks, but so far, the children seem to like it. “They think it's like a spaceship,” says Myung. “All of them come back and want to do it again.”

Even though the new equipment is located in a children’s hospital, it’s not just for kids. Adults can use it, too, as long as they have a referral.

Jake Harper is an investigative reporter for Side Effects Public Media, and he is a co-host of the Sick podcast. He can be reached at