Pediatric Radiology at RadNet
Pediatric Radiology with Dr. Liliane Gibbs
Millions of people throughout the country receive radiology exams every year. They’re an essential tool in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases such as heart disease, cancer, dementia, as well as physical injuries such as bone fractures and dislocations. When most people think of radiology, they think of MRIs, CT scans, Ultrasound and X-rays being performed on adults, but they forget that children also develop diseases that require radiologic imaging methods. It may seem like taking an X-ray of a child would be same as taking an X-ray of an adult, but in fact the two are worlds apart. In this article, Dr. Liliane Gibbs, Medical Director of Pediatric Radiology at RadNet explains what makes pediatric radiology different from adult radiology and the main challenges faced in pediatric radiology.
Dr. Liliane Gibbs | Medical Director of Pediatric Radiology
Dr. Liliane Harika Gibbs joined RadNet from the University of California, Irvine Medical Center where she is currently a Clinical Professor of Radiology. She received her medical degree from the Lebanese University, after which she did a research fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital-Harvard University for two years. Dr. Gibbs underwent an Internship in Internal Medicine at a Yale affiliated medical center in New Haven, CT, before completing a Radiology Residency at the Lahey Clinic Medical Center in Burlington, MA. She later completed a Pediatric Radiology Fellowship at the Loma Linda University Medical Center in Loma Linda, CA. Dr. Gibbs has participated in various pediatric research projects and has contributed to many written publications. She joined RadNet three years ago as the Medical Director of Pediatric Radiology. Dr. Gibbs uses her expertise to give thoughtful insight into the world of imaging children and what makes it so different than imaging adult patients.
Differences in Pediatric Radiology
Contrary to what many people may believe, imaging children is quite different from imaging adults. “Children are not young adults,” says Dr. Gibbs, “The pathology, imaging parameters and interpretation are all different.” Children’s cells divide more rapidly, which means they have a higher ratio of young cells in their body and are more vulnerable to low-level radiation. Pediatric radiologists have to lessen exposure without depriving doctors of valuable information. Their goal is dose reduction without sacrificing image quality, which can be difficult because the structures imaged in children are smaller and are sometimes difficult to find, which can have major implications for determining the right diagnosis and treatment. Many conditions being investigated are the result of congenital abnormalities and pathology seen only in this age group. Pediatric dose reduction requires special steps be taken to reduce radiation exposure during this critical time of development. Pediatric radiologists need additional training and expertise in fetal development, pediatric growth, and an entirely unique set of diagnoses that children can have. Child patients have to be scanned more quickly to minimize artifacts from motion without the use of sedation, which can be challenging because many children don’t understand why they’re being scanned and have a hard time staying still during radiology exams. Because motion interferes with the quality of the image, imaging kids often takes longer and makes pediatric dose reduction more difficult.
Challenges in Pediatric Radiology
Dr. Gibbs believes that involving the child prior and during the procedure is essential to successful imaging. Children are not only restless, but many are often scared and intimidated by the equipment and new faces around them. Communicating with the child and making sure he or she understands the procedure is the best way to ensure that the child is cooperative and comfortable while they’re being scanned.
Radiation protection in pediatric radiology for kids also requires communication with the parents and referring physicians. Parents may be hesitant to have their children undergo a CT scan or X-ray because of the exposure to radiation. “Communication is key,” says Dr. Gibbs, “Many parents refuse radiologic exams that are critical for the diagnosis of diseases in their children because of the radiation exposure, for example. However, they do not know the implication of these decisions. As pediatric imagers, we take special care to minimize the amount of radiation used in the imaging procedures. There are many ways and steps that we can take to ensure that the radiation exposure is minimal and the benefit of a particular diagnostic exam outweigh the harm of the radiation exposure.” Worried parents should understand that we are exposed to background radiation in everyday life and sometimes that background exposure is higher than what is used in an X-ray. Of course, if there is a technique that gives the same result as a CT scan, radiologists will recommend it. “Once the parents learn that the benefits outweigh the downside, they are usually okay with their child undergoing a CT scan,” says Dr. Gibbs.
Pediatric radiology is very different than adult radiology, but Dr. Gibbs enjoys the challenges that come with it and her commitment to safe imaging is strong. “Kids are great to work with,” she says, “it is rewarding to make a difference in a child’s life.”