Radiation exposure and the cumulative radiation a child receives continues to be a topic of research and study. The less radiation a child receives the better. Ultrasounds are an imaging modality that does not expose a child to radiation. There are more and more instances where ultrasounds are being used rather than X-ray or CT scans.
Pediatric ultrasounds are used to help diagnose appendicitis, pneumonia, congenital heart disease, abdominal masses, kidney disease, thyroid masses, testicular abnormalities and a host of other issues during childhood. The fact that an ultrasound machine is easily transported to an infant or child’s bedside is another reason that ultrasounds are utilized whenever possible.
Interestingly, bedside ultrasounds performed in the ER by trained physicians are now being utilized to diagnose simple forearm fractures which are common during childhood. The most common being a “buckle fracture” (non-displaced fracture of the radius).
Ultrasound studies of the forearm in a child with a suspected fracture seemed to not only be accurate but were more timely and in studies were also associated with less patient pain. Win - Win - Win.
It may be awhile before this is the standard of care in every ER, but look for less X-rays and more ultrasounds over the next years. I wonder if one day there will be ultrasound machines in pediatric offices….who knows?!