"Children are not simply small adults. They have different biologies and only a specialist can appreciate the difference. The pathologic processes affecting children are much different than those affecting adults."
- Shawn P. Qullin, MD, Pediatric Radiologist, Mecklenburg Radiology Associates
At Mecklenburg Radiology Associates we have radiologists who are fellowship trained in pediatric radiology. We know that children are not just small adults when it comes to health care. The diseases and conditions affecting them are often different from those seen in adults. It's especially important to understand this difference when a child needs an x-ray or other imaging study.
Our radiologists are experts in the field of medical imaging of children, from infants to adolescents, and are the specialists in selecting the best imaging techniques to diagnose medical and surgical problems in the young. Much of our work is done at Presbyterian's Hemby Children's Hospital.
Children's studies include CT scan, barium enemas through fluoroscopy, cystourethrograms , intravenous urograms (IVP – a kidney function test), MRI, ultrasound and upper GI and nuclear medicine. We also work with specialists in childhood diseases and oncology. While it is rare, more than 9,000 children will be diagnosed with cancer this year in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society. Though much progress has been made in diagnosis and treatment, cancer is still the leading cause of death under the age of 15. Our imaging program offers a wide range of modalities to diagnose and treat children with cancer.
When a child presents with abdominal pain, persistent headache or injury, pneumonia, infection or inflammation or if a tumor or cancer is suspected, CT is often the first modality used for diagnosis since it can image bone, soft tissue and blood vessels all at the same time. CT is especially helpful in an emergency case, as it can reveal internal injuries and bleeding quickly enough to help save lives.
CT studies are also performed to evaluate blood vessels serving the brain, face or neck, along with the spinal cord and bones in the spinal column. It is extremely helpful in ruling out serious complications, such as bleeding in the brain or other brain damage, show blood vessel or lung damage, and can uncover birth defects.
The newer multi-slice units, as used at Presbyterian and Lake Norman Regional Medical Center hospital and outpatient locations, give extremely detailed pictures of the heart and large blood vessels in children and infants, making it an invaluable tool for viewing within the chest. CT is also the modality of choice for diagnosing diseases or injury to the abdomen, including the liver, kidney, spleen and appendix.
CT pelvic studies can help detect cysts or tumors of the ovary, bladder abnormalities, stones in the urinary tract and disease of the pelvic bones.
When a child has abdominal pain of unknown origin, ultrasound is often ordered. This painless procedure, that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce pictures of the inside of the body, is used when a further evaluation is needed of internal organs, such as the liver, gallbladder, spleen, pancreas, appendix, intestines, kidneys or bladder. It is especially helpful in diagnosing appendicitis in children. Because ultrasound images are captured in real-time, they can show the structure and movement of the body's internal organs, as well as blood flowing through blood vessels.
A special study called a Doppler ultrasound evaluates blood as it flows through a blood vessel to rule out clots, narrowed vessels, tumors or congenital malformations. It's helpful in visualizing the body's major arteries and veins in the abdomen, arms, legs and neck. Because ultrasound provides real-time images it may also be used to guide procedures, such as a needle biopsy to get a tissue sample for pathology and for catheter or drainage device placement.
Pediatric Voiding Cystourethrogram (VCUG)
After a child has a urinary tract infection or recurring infections, a condition called vesicoureteral (VU) reflux can occur. A VCUG tests for this problem, which causes urine backup the lower ureter. The backup can result in a swollen kidney or increased infections. VCUG is a common x-ray that shows the bladder and lower urinary tract. Using motion x-ray called fluoroscopy, the radiologist is able to view and assess the function of the bladder and urinary tract, watching as the bladder is filled and emptied with a water-based contrast solution.
Pediatric Nuclear Medicine
Nuclear medicine is a subspecialty within radiology that utilizes radioactive substances to create images of body anatomy and function. The images are developed based on the detection of energy emitted from the radioactive substance given to the patient. Pediatric nuclear medicine refers to these types of examinations in babies, young children and teenagers.
If a child has a suspected urinary blockage in the kidney, infection and trauma in the bones or gastrointestinal bleeding, a nuclear medicine may be the best modality for diagnosis. Pediatric nuclear medicine is used in the diagnostic workup of many childhood disorders that are congenital or acquired later. Nuclear imaging studies are helpful in evaluating different organ systems, including the kidneys, liver, heart, lungs and bones.
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January 31, 2013
Dr. Kevin Carroll explains how the new High-Field True Open Magnetic Resonance Imaging machine works.