When it comes to pediatric healthcare, a common expression is “Children are not just small adults.” That expression applies specifically to ultrasound too.
For example, Michael Riccabona, M.D., in his May 2004 Diagnostic Imaging Europe article, states, in the case of abdominal ultrasound:
“Ultrasound examination of the pediatric abdomen differs from that of the adult abdomen because children, infants, and neonates have different body size and topographic relations. Their physiology also varies from that of adults, as they have a higher heart and breathing rate and different tissue composition. Ultrasound operators may need specific equipment and training for this patient group, as well as a greater awareness of congenital malformations.”
Simply put, performing an ultrasound on a pediatric patient (the age group that generally spans from newborns to adolescents) is not the same as performing one on an adult. Anatomy, physiology and certain diseases and disorders vary across the human lifespan.
ARDMS’ New Pediatric Sonography Specialty Exam
In April 2014, the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) announced that in February 2015 it will administer its very first Pediatric Sonography specialty exam.
The ARDMS administers several globally-recognized sonography credentials. One of them is the Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonography (RDMS) credential. When candidates pursue the RDMS, they sit for two exams: the Sonography Principles and Instrumentation (SPI) exam, and a specialty exam, such as an Abdomen, Breast, Fetal Echocardiography or OB/GYN, and beginning in 2015, a Pediatric Sonography specialty exam.
The Neurosonology specialty exam will be discontinued in 2015, but some of its content will be incorporated into the new Pediatric Sonography examination.
“The Pediatric Sonography certification supports the current and anticipated needs of the evolving pediatric Sonography field,” states the ARDMS’ April 28, 2014, press release.
Those wishing to apply for the first Pediatric Sonography exam dates (February 17-March 12, 2015) can apply from November 19, 2014 until January 19, 2015.
For more information on the new Pediatric Sonography specialty exam, visit: www.ardms.org/credentials_examinations/pediatric-sonography
Tips for Ultrasound Technicians Working With Pediatric Patients
Patient care is important when performing ultrasounds on any age group.
Here are some tips specifically geared to help younger patients feel relaxed so you can perform the most accurate and effective medical imaging exam possible.
- Smile and introduce yourself to the young patient. Embrace your “inner child”, acting in an upbeat manner to make the patient feel calm from the get-go.
- If your space permits, you can ask the patient’s parent or guardian to bring in some toys or books (that you have on hand) to distract the patient if need be.
- Do as much preparation outside the exam room, such as recording patient’s history. Much of this will probably be answered by the parent or guardian if the patient is quite young, but depending on the ultrasound, you can ask the patient to point to the place on their body that hurts.
- Telling a young child that they are “going to be on television” may get them to sit or lie still for the exam.
- During the exam, talk to the young patient about fun topics to keep their mind at ease. Depending on the patient and case, you may want to show them what is up on the ultrasound screen.