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  • Pulmonary CT Angiography for Pulmonary Embolism in Children at Two Adult-Centered Community Hospitals

    Department of Diagnostic RadiologyRyan W. Arnold MD.1 Rajnil Shah MD.2 Emily Janitz DO.1 Wayne R. Hedrick PhD.1 Aultman/Mercy/NEOUCOM Residency Program1 and Cleveland Clinic Florida2

    Purpose:Pulmonary CT Angiography (CTA) to rule out pulmonary embolism (PE) is ordered relatively infrequently at pediatric hospitals. At these centers, pediatric radiologists and pediatric emergency physicians are educated regarding the risks of radiation exposure in children and adolescents, and the low incidence of pulmonary emboli in otherwise normal pediatric patients.1 Little has been reported regarding the use of pulmonary CTA in pediatric patients visiting adult-centered hospitals, where CT utilization and radiation doses may be higher than at pediatric centers.

    Objectives: Assess the percent of positive chest CTA studies in pediatric patients evaluated for PE at two adult- centered community hospitals. Evaluate the use of chest radiography and D-dimer studies in patients undergoing chest CTA. Compare CTA doses in our patients to those reported in the literature.

    Methods:An IRB-approved retrospective analysis of medical records was conducted at two separate adult-centered community hospitals in a small city in the midwest-ern United States. Patients aged 0-19 who underwent pulmonary CTA during a one-year period (2007) were identifi ed. Clinical presentation and test results were extracted. CTA radiation doses on a representative sample of pediatric patients at these institutions were calculated using the total dose-length product reported on the scanner dose reports.

    Risk Factors and Study Adequacy:

    Risk factors for DVT/PE in our patients included oral contraceptive use (11 patients), pregnancy (11), recently post-partum (5), prior PE or DVT (3), hypercoagulable blood disorder (3), Crohns disease (2), and long road trips (2). Chest CTA was ordered in two patients with a normal D-dimer. One CTA study was labeled nondiagnostic and 14 suboptimal.

    Radiation and Pulmonary CTA:

    Radiation doses ranged from 6.5 to 10.3 mSv, averaging 7.9 mSv. Th e literature reports lower typical doses in pediatric chest CT (around 3 mSv2). Pediatric dose protocols were infrequently utilized. Dose reports were rarely saved in the permanent PACS fi le. One chest CTA at our institutions equals the equivalent radiation dose of a lifetime (61 years) of screening mammography exams.3,4

    Th e risk of fatal radiation-induced cancer has been estimated to be as high as 1 per 1000 CT studies.2

    Relative risk of cancer is highest in female patients, due to breast irradiation, and in very young children.5

    * Aortic root ectasia and bilateral pleural eff usions in one patient, trace pneumomediastinum in the other.

    Conclusions: Zero percent diagnostic yield of CTA for PE over a one year period highlights the relative infrequent incidence of PE in adolescents and raises the question of CTA overutilization in the pediatric population at these institutions. Some of these studies might have been avoided with judicious evaluation of risk factors, as well as rigorous use of D-dimer screening and chest radiography, which appear to be underutilized in this setting. Pregnancy and oral contraceptive use play a dominant role in the decision to order pulmonary CTA in adolescents. Pediatric dose protocols have not become incorporated into routine CTA use in these adult-centered hospitals. Education regarding the frequency of pediatric PE and radiation safety must extend from Pediatric Radiology and Pediatric Emergency Medicine into adult-centered medical practices.

    15-year-old patient complaining of left-sided chest pain and mild shortness of breath after visiting an amusement park. Pulmonary CTA was performed before chest radiography and D-dimer screening. Note the

    small pneumothorax and also the high mA value. Th e study was negative for pulmonary embolism.

    1. Pediatric Radiology. 2005; 35:258-274.2. J Pediatr Surg. 2007 Apr;42(4):603-7.3. Clinical Pediatric Emergency Medicine. 6:4 (Dec 05), p. 244-252.4. NCRP Report No. 116, Limitations of Exposure to Ionizing Radiation, National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements, 1993.5. Pediatrics. Vol. 112 No. 4 October 2003, pp. 951-957.

    Key Findings:Number of pediatric patients studied: 83Age range: 14-19 yearsGender: 82% femaleLocation: 84% ER, 11% outpatient, 5% inpatient

    Percent positive for PE: Zero

    Percent screened with D-dimer before CTA: 37%

    Percent examined with chest radiography before CTA: 57%

    Of the 47 patients who underwent chest radiography before CTA, the CT study added clinically important information in only two.*

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