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Pediatr Radiol. 2008 Nov;38 Suppl 4:S660-3. doi: 10.1007/s00247-008-0982-y. Epub 2008 Sep 23.

Imaging utilization commentary: a radiology perspective.

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Children's Hospital, Health Sciences Centre, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada.


To adhere to the ALARA concept, imaging should be limited to studies that actually contribute to the management of the patient. For example, by applying the Ottawa Ankle Rule and the Ottawa Knee Rule, fewer radiographs are required to evaluate ankle and knee trauma in children. Chest radiographs usually do not contribute to the management of children presenting with typical acute bronchiolitis or asthma, and they can be detrimental because consolidation resulting from retained secretions is interpreted as pneumonia and the child is started on antibiotics unnecessarily. Moreover, a radiograph of the abdomen has poor validity and reproducibility for the diagnosis of constipation. The Pediatric Emergency Care Applied Research Network (PECARN) and the Pediatric Emergency Research in Canada (PERC) are currently developing decision rules for the use of CT in the assessment of minor head injuries in children, which should reduce its utilization in this condition. PECARN is also developing a decision rule for the use of CT in the assessment of abdominal trauma in children. CT is frequently used for the diagnosis of appendicitis in children, but appendicitis can be diagnosed clinically. If imaging is required, appendicitis can often be diagnosed with US, and CT need only be used in the minority of cases where the diagnosis is still in doubt. Utilization guidelines for pediatric imaging studies obtained in children in the emergency setting can improve yield and help in the more efficient management of often scarce health care resources.

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