Dr. Hamid Alam of Jericho, New York is a Board-Certified Diagnostic Radiologist who attended Medical School at Sylhet Mag Osmani Medical College. In the following article, Dr. Hamid Alam discusses pediatric patient imaging within the realm of tiny hearts, growing bones, and developing brains, as well as how radiologists navigate this path that requires exceptional technical expertise and a profound understanding of the distinctive needs, vulnerabilities, and intricacies of young patients.
Scans that may be easily conducted on adults require integral adjustments in order to ensure successful outputs for children. Those in charge of the process (i.e., the rotating resident and the general radiologist) must be aware of and ready to handle any issues, altering their techniques as they go.
To ensure patient safety and prevent excessive radiation exposure to children, practitioners should take the following general rules into account before and during pediatric imaging.
Dr. Hamid Alam Says to Develop a Rapport with the Patient and Parents
Regardless of age, there are always relatives with whom the radiologist must speak. However, in pediatric settings, there are various unique elements at play in the relationship between the imager and the child’s parents, caregivers, or family members.
Dr. Hamid Alam of Jericho, New York says that more often than not, communication happens between the parent and the radiologist when treating a child, rather than common technician to patient interactions. That said, building a rapport with the young patient themselves is also a huge factor in successful imaging.
On top of that, the degree of communication between the technician and the child-family unit is typically more extensive than in adult settings. This is due to the potential problems, such as the possibility of sedation, the necessity of parental consent, and the need for in-depth procedure explanations to the child and their parent. People are often more protective and ask more questions when their children are being treated.
Dr. Hamid Alam of Jericho, New York explains that, coupled with the intense levels of stress the parents may be experiencing, radiologists must take the time to form a healthy relationship with their patient’s caregivers. To do that, experts recommend imagers to display empathy, transparent communication, patience, and professionalism at all times.
Guaranteeing Effective, Professional Communication
In pediatric healthcare, most parental complaints relate to professionalism and communication rather than technical errors. Research shows that thoroughly practicing communication skills has a profound impact on positive outcomes, such as decreased costs, boosted family satisfaction, improved patient outcomes, and a reduced chance of litigations.
Dr. Hamid Alam of Jericho, New York notes that even though this may seem a no-brainer, physicians don’t usually receive formal communication or professionalism training. Thus, they may not boast all the skills necessary to achieve complete success in the pediatric healthcare field.
Radiologists and other professionals working in the sector must make conscious efforts to improve this, especially where children are concerned. In this vein, some practices have developed professionalism booklets to be provided to faculty and rotation trainees. These detail the expected behaviors, de-escalation strategies, and which should be avoided. Ultimately, they aim to ensure that all practitioners in the department operate professionally through clear communication.
Dealing with Uncooperative Patients
Dr. Hamid Alam of Jericho, New York reports that young children and infants often cannot cooperate with the requirements that may be easy for adults. They may not be able to keep still, maintain a required position, hold their breath, or concentrate for long periods of time without assistance or feeling scared.
Plus, different ages represent various different challenges. For instance, babies may not be able to stay still, while three-year-old children may simply refuse to cooperate. Such limitations affect every type of pediatric imaging service, whether it be radiography, magnetic resonance imaging, interventional radiology, fluoroscopy, or computed tomography.
However, practitioners boast a wide range of techniques that they have developed to combat these issues and achieve the desired picture. While there are many methods available, the most commonly utilized include offering child-friendly surroundings, sedation, immobilizing the patient, or distracting them.
Practical Setup Considerations for Imaging Children
Many of the considerations for imaging children are deep-rooted in emotions, communicative talents, and general attitude. However, there are a few practical setup notes that must be followed in order to capture a successful image.
Dr. Hamid Alam of Jericho, New York says that due to the different dimensions and variable body part thicknesses of children, anti-scatter grids must be used with caution. They are not recommended for areas less than 10cm thick, so pediatric imagers should consider their necessity based on the tissue composition and size of the child.
Likewise, radiologists must pay close attention to AEC settings. Since children often vary drastically in size, technique and exposure factors must be altered accordingly. For instance, young children have less calcified bones, which may necessitate lower kVps for tissue penetration than what would be used for adults.
Overall, Dr. Hamid Alam of Jericho, New York says that imaging children can be made a successful endeavor, provided that the above-mentioned techniques are employed to guarantee safe and effective outcomes.