General emergency departments use CT to diagnose abdominal pain in children more often

September 15, 2017

WASHINGTON - A child with non-traumatic abdominal pain, a common symptom of appendicitis, is more likely to receive a computed tomography (CT) scan in a general emergency department (ED) than if he or she visited a pediatric emergency department, according to a study published in Pediatrics.

Though overall use of CT in pediatric non-traumatic abdominal pain has plateaued since 2011, the study's findings indicate a significant difference in imaging protocol practices for children depending on where they are taken for emergency care.

"An estimated 21.1 million emergency department visits for children with abdominal pain occur each year, and 80 percent of those are seen in the general emergency departments," says Joanna Cohen, M.D., a pediatric emergency physician at Children's National Health System and senior author of the study. "Similar patients seen in pediatric emergency departments with these symptoms are less likely to receive a CT scan and therefore less likely to incur the radiation exposure that accompanies CT."

Children in the pediatric emergency setting were more likely to receive an ultrasound for diagnosis--an approach reflected in current clinical practice guidelines for pediatric imaging, which is aimed at reducing unnecessary radiation exposure. Radiologists have found ultrasounds, though not as precise as CT, to be an effective diagnostic tool in many cases, with no negative impact on outcomes. As a result, a significantly smaller number of cases require CT for diagnosis--only those where ultrasound outcomes weren't definitive.

Using data from the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, the study completed a repeat cross-sectional analysis to observe national ED trends in CT and ultrasound imaging for pediatric non-traumatic abdominal pain for a period of eight years, from 2007 through 2014. In addition to the differences in usage between pediatric and general EDs, the study finds that CT use has stayed flat since 2011, indicating that the upward trend of CT use reported from 1999-2009 has slowed or stopped in recent years.

"This study has shown us two things: first, national awareness of the risks of radiation exposure for children may now be influencing national imaging trends in a positive way," Dr. Cohen continues, "And second, encouraging the dissemination of pediatric focused radiology protocols to general EDs may help further advance this trend."
-end-
About Children's National Health System

Children's National Health System, based in Washington, D.C., has been serving the nation's children since 1870. Children's National is #1 for babies and ranked in every specialty evaluated by U.S. News & World Report including placement in the top 10 for: Cancer (#7), Neurology and Neurosurgery (#9) Orthopedics (#9) and Nephrology (#10). Children's National has been designated two times as a Magnet® hospital, a designation given to hospitals that demonstrate the highest standards of nursing and patient care delivery. This pediatric academic health system offers expert care through a convenient, community-based primary care network and specialty outpatient centers. Home to the Children's Research Institute and the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation, Children's National is one of the nation's top NIH-funded pediatric institutions. Children's National is recognized for its expertise and innovation in pediatric care and as a strong voice for children through advocacy at the local, regional and national levels. For more information, visit ChildrensNational.org, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Children's National Health System

Related Ultrasound Articles from Brightsurf:

An integrated approach to ultrasound imaging in medicine and biology
Announcing a new article publication for BIO Integration journal. In this editorial, Co-Editor-in-Chief, Pingtong Huang considers an integrated approach to ultrasound imaging in medicine and biology.

PLUS takes 3D ultrasound images of solids
A two-in-one technology provides 3D images of structural defects, such as those that can develop in aircraft and power plants.

Scientists develop noninvasive ultrasound neuromodulation technique
Researchers from the Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology (SIAT) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences developed a noninvasive ultrasound neuromodulation technique, which could potentially modulate neuronal excitability without any harm in the brain.

World's first ultrasound biosensor created in Australia
Most implantable monitors for drug levels and biomarkers invented so far rely on high tech and expensive detectors such as CT scans or MRI.

Ultrasound can make stronger 3D-printed alloys
A study just published in Nature Communications shows high frequency sound waves can have a significant impact on the inner micro-structure of 3D printed alloys, making them more consistent and stronger than those printed conventionally.

Full noncontact laser ultrasound: First human data
Conventional ultrasonography requires contact with the patient's skin with the ultrasound probe for imaging, which causes image variability due to inconsistent probe contact pressure and orientation.

Ultrasound aligns living cells in bioprinted tissues
Researchers have developed a technique to improve the characteristics of engineered tissues by using ultrasound to align living cells during the biofabrication process.

Ultrasound for thrombosis prevention
Researchers established real-time ultrasonic monitoring of the blood's aggregate state using the in vitro blood flow model.

Ultra ultrasound to transform new tech
A new, more sensitive method to measure ultrasound may revolutionize everything from medical devices to unmanned vehicles.

Shoulder 'brightness' on ultrasound may be a sign of diabetes
A shoulder muscle that appears unusually bright on ultrasound may be a warning sign of diabetes, according to a new study.

Read More: Ultrasound News and Ultrasound Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.