Diagnostic Ultrasound › Paediatric Ultrasound
IS ULTRASOUND SAFE IN CHILDREN?
Yes. The equipment is the same as that used during pregnancy. The use of sound waves to create images means there is no radiation and no heat generation, making it safe and painless.
WHICH CONDITIONS CAN BE INVESTIGATED WITH ULTRASOUND?
The safety of ultrasound makes it in fact the first form of imaging in children. Being pain free means no sedation is necessary. And it allows us to get close up pictures of small structures without any side effects.
Brain: In infants, the brain can be seen with ultrasound through the anterior fontanelle (soft spot at the top of the head). This can only be done up till the age of approximately 1 year, when the soft spot closes.
Spine: This is a very common test, used to exclude problems with the formation of the spine (spina bifida occulta) and make sure a dimple in the middle of the back-side does not communicate with the spine.
Neck: Some abnormalities may be present from birth like cysts, others may develop with age such as lymph nodes (swollen glands). Thyroid problems are also best tested with ultrasound in the first instance.
Lumps: Any lump or bump that can be felt under the skin, anywhere in the body, is usually first tested with ultrasound to decide whether it is in the tissues under the skin, in the muscle or arising from the bone. Depending on the ultrasound findings, further tests may be recommended.
Abdomen and Pelvis: Same as at any age, with the addition of testing for conditions such as pyloric stenosis (a cause for strong vomiting in babies), constipation, appendicitis, twisting of the ovaries and lymph gland swelling inside the abdomen.
Hips: Limping is the most common presentation of a hip problem in children – most hip problems will cause an accumulation of fluid in the joint (effusion), this can be seen with ultrasound, confirming the source of limping to be from the hip and guide specialist investigations. Dislocation of the hip is another problem that can be diagnosed by ultrasound.
Joints: Swelling of joints may occur at a young age, and ultrasound helps identify arthritis by showing abnormal fluid and increased blood flow in the lining of the joints.
Groin and Genitalia: Common problems in childhood include herniae as well as scrotal conditions including testicular torsion, undescended testicles and varicocoele among others. Ultrasounds are valuable in their diagnosis and assessment.
HOW CAN I BE SURE THIS IS THE BEST TEST FOR MY CHILD?
It is recommended to check with your paediatrician whether an ultrasound, or any other test is indicated for your child's problem. Your paediatrician is also the best specialist to tell you what treatment and follow up is needed depending on the test findings. Your radiologist will inform you of the findings of the scan immediately, but will also send a copy of your results to your paediatrician to allow them to prepare a course of action.
PREPARATION REQUIRED FOR PAEDIATRIC ULTRASOUND
No preparation is usually required for paediatric ultrasounds.