When a child falls ill or is injured, we seek care from a pediatrician (a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating patients 0-18).
In some cases, medical imaging may be requested. While it might seem safe to assume a continuum of care from a pediatric radiologist is being provided, that isn’t always the case.
An estimated 75-85% of pediatric radiology scans are read by adult radiologists. This can greatly impact accuracy and increase the risk of misdiagnosis. “Some people think that children are just “little adults”, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Children present with different diseases and in unique patterns that require a trained eye to diagnose accurately,” says Dr. Rozenfeld, a fellowship-trained Pediatric and Neuroradiologist.
The Difference Between an Adult and Pediatric Radiologist
Pediatric radiologists go through extensive subspecialty training that allows them to gain a deep understanding and familiarity with the unique and intricate developing anatomy of infants, children, and adolescents. A fracture in the elbow of a five-year-old cannot be examined in the same way as a fracture in a 32-year-old. The same goes for organs. A fully developed liver in an adult will present disease with different characteristics than a developing child.
The ability to correctly identify and diagnose illness, injury, and disease in children requires a specific set of skills that pediatric radiologists dedicate their career to developing. “Pediatric imaging is unique among radiology specialties. It requires specialized protocols and extra attention to safety and radiation dose,”says Dr. Rozenfeld. An adult radiologist without this training may not be aware of the nuances involved in pediatric scans.
Pediatric Radiologist Shortages
Pediatric radiology is an important subspecialty within radiology, but worldwide shortages make it difficult for facilities to ensure specialized interpretations. According to a study by the American Journal of Roentgenology, approximately 3% of radiologists in the US are pediatric radiologists. Worldwide, gaps in coverage are even wider, with the number of pediatric radiologists varying between 0 and 50 per million children. These shortages have left many areas underserved.
Where Can I Find a Pediatric Radiologist
The majority of pediatric radiologists work in hospitals or academic practices based in major cities of large metropolitan areas. Geographic and financial constraints, however, can make seeking care at such facilities difficult or unreachable. Online second opinion services offer a solution to accessibility challenges.
DocPanel, a remote subspecialty second opinion service provider, connects patients to top pediatric subspecialty radiologists in the US. Patients can upload scans from anywhere in the world and get results in just 24-48 hours. “The extra 1-2 years of dedicated training that pediatric radiologists like myself receive are invaluable in allowing us to properly care for our young patients,” says Dr. Rozenfeld. “As a reading radiologist at DocPanel, I’m able to connect with patients that I would not have otherwise had the opportunity to provide care to.” Designed to eliminate many of the challenges often associated with finding affordable subspecialized radiology services, DocPanel allows people to get the same level of care as they would from a prestigious hospital for a fraction of the cost and with much shorter wait times.
The Future of Pediatric Radiology
With advances in technology and safety protocols, pediatric radiology is growing both in size and importance. As new techniques are being deployed for imaging pediatric patients, subspecialization in the field is paramount. Fortunately, remote second opinions offer an avenue to get subspecialty interpretations on medical imaging to help ensure your child gets an accurate diagnosis.