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Pediatric imaging solutions are delivering big benefits to small patients

by John W. Mitchell, Senior Correspondent | June 08, 2015
CT MRI Rad Oncology Pediatrics Primary Care X-Ray
From the June 2015 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

“Technologists who are trained and experienced in the care of imaging techniques for children are invaluable in the performance of high-quality and experienced imaging,” says Dr. Kenneth Ward, chairman for the Department of Radiology at the Children’s Hospital, New Orleans. “The recognition of child abuse, for example, based on imaging techniques, has resulted in action that has saved numerous lives. Trained personnel who are both pediatric and emergency, specialists are the ideal pairing for handling childhood emergencies,” he says.

Siegel notes that a good pediatric CT service requires dedicated staff, trained in dealing with children, and a child friendly environment. The technologists need to understand how to do a diagnostic CT at the lowest dose.

Hernanz-Schulman explains that there also has to be recognition of the need to stay current with technology, and commitment by hospitals and imaging centers to doing so. “Patients and referring physicians should be aware of the capabilities of the imaging facility. Important questions to ask are whether the facility and its equipment are accredited by the American College of Radiology, and whether the patient will receive a child-size dose. No one wants to over-radiate children, that’s why educating everyone about the evolving trends in children’s imaging is so critical, and payers should incentivize this value-based performance” says Hernanz-Schulman.

Based on a consensus of the physicians interviewed, the information and insight that imaging provides is worth the trade-off in radiation exposure. Outcomes for treatment of serious conditions such as head or body trauma, volvulus or intussusceptions of the bowel, internal bleeding and cancers, have all been greatly improved with advances in pediatric imaging. Prior to the advent of imaging, particularly CT scanning, exploratory surgery was often the only option for appropriate diagnosis.

Weill Cornell’s Min notes that the quality of images and additional information that MRI, low-dose CT and ultrasound provide has eliminated much of the use of fluoroscopic studies. Siegel attests to recent development of dual-energy CT scans that greatly reduce artifacts in images, which helps in getting great quality scans in patients with metal pins and rods, in order to treat curvature of the spine, for example. Hernanz-Schulman adds that CT scanners are using less radiation in every generation, and the imaging quality keeps getting better, yielding outstanding images.

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