Paediatric Radiology: New Tools to Take Care of Our Children

New techniques for paediatric diagnoses such as computed tomography, ultrasound (US), and magnetic resonance (MR) imaging have opened a new window to paediatric organ systems, experts stressed at the European Congress of Radiology (ECR) in Vienna. Inter alia, modern imaging tools may help the observant radiologist to reveal signs of child abuse not evident to the clinician.

Vienna, Friday, March 9, 2007 – New techniques for paediatric diagnoses have rapidly developed over the past ten years. Computed tomography, ultrasound (US), and magnetic resonance (MR) imaging have opened a new window to paediatric organ systems. “Through the use of these imaging modalities an increased understanding of the pathological processes that occur in the paediatric population has emerged,” noted Associate Professor Isabella Maria Björkman-Burtscher (Division of Diagnostic Radiology, Lund University Hospital, SE) at the kick-off press conference of the European Congress of Radiology (ECR) 2007, an event held from March 9 to 13, 2007, at Austria Center Vienna and attended by 16,000 participants from 92 countries.

Associate Professor Björkman-Burtscher: “However, the use of these techniques requires proper image interpretation based on a profound knowledge of the concepts of embryology, normal development and pathophysiology. This knowledge is provided of course by text books and scientific journals, but not least by gatherings such as the annual ECR meeting.”

Among all the emerging and developing radiological techniques, modern paediatric cardiac MR and ultrasound, for example, enable radiologists to observe and measure blood flow and cardiac activity in congenital heart disease and thus improve the work up of these patients prior to surgery and rehabilitation. “MR spectroscopy gives us in a non-invasive insight into tissue metabolism and allows earlier and more precise diagnosis of, for example, inborn errors of metabolism”, Associate Professor Björkman-Burtscher said.

Paediatric cancer patients profit from the increased diagnostic and therapeutic possibilities that modern paediatric radiology and interventions provide. New technologies not only allow examination of these patients with low doses of radiation, but also with alternative methods such as MR and US. This aspect is crucial for these young patients, who are potentially at risk of developing cancer in adulthood due to high radiation exposure during diagnosis and follow-up.

Furthermore, modern imaging techniques also play an important role in child protection, Associate Professor Björkman-Burtscher pointed out: “The observant radiologist may reveal signs of child abuse not evident to the clinician.”

But modern paediatric radiology is not confined to post-natal medicine. Fetal MR allows the evaluation of maternal and fetal problems suspected during routine ultrasound examinations of pregnant women and will help clinicians and parents to optimize their decisions and treatment strategies.

“All of these aspects of paediatric radiology and many more will be elucidated during this annual meeting, giving interested radiologists the tools to take care of our children, the most precious gifts we have,” the expert stressed.

To sum up what paediatric radiology is all about for the patients, their parents and the paediatric radiologist, Associate Professor Björkman-Burtscher recited a poem of the distinguished paediatric radiologist Leonard Swischuk entitled “a bundle of movement”.

A bundle of movement so awkward to hold.

Crying and crying for minutes untold.

Perpetual motion, so hard to contain.

Your charisma and patience, it truly can strain.

Your very first thought may prompt a retreat.

You’ll want to give up, and concede to defeat.

But before you pack up and go screaming away,

Just think for a moment, this babe needs you today.

Hold him awhile, help him adjust.

Restrain his momentum, it’s almost a must.

You’ll not really hurt him, if his arms you must bind.

Just stay in command, be gentle and kind.

There is nothing so fine as to take a babe home.

And nothing so hard as to leave him alone.

So help little Jack, and somebody’s Jill

Their mothers and fathers sure hope that you will.


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