New Method Makes Cardiac CT Safe for Kids

Less invasive CT scan successful on pediatric patients

(RxWiki News) While adult cardio patients have long had the option of a simple CT scan, the choices have been much more limited for pediatric patients. In children, the standard has been cardiac catherization, an invasive procedure that involves radiation and sedation.

Recent research by the Minneapolis Heart Institute, however, has suggested that new techniques now make the simpler cardiac CT scan safe for children.

Coronary computed tomography angiography, known as CTA, offers diagnostic confidence and excellent image quality with significantly fewer risks. It's similar to a traditional CT scan combined with other techniques.

"Newer CT scans enables young heart patients to forego medical procedures."

Dr. B. Kelly Han, a pediatric cardiologist at Minneapolis Heart Institute at Abbott Northwestern Hospital and Children's Heart Clinic in Minneapolis, said that one barrier to the new scan is high heart rates in pediatric patients. A combination of medication to slow the heart rate and new scanner technology means the research team has been able to obtain clear images of coronary arteries in patients as young as 5 months old.

Dr. Han and her team reviewed all coronary CTAs performed on patients under the age of 18 at Minneapolis Heart Institute between 2007 to 2011. Researchers examined the heart rate control with beta blockade, and the radiation dose with varied scan modes to compare image quality and radiation dose.

Patients were separated into three groups. Each used a dual-source CT scanner but with different modes and different radiation doses. Seventy-six scans were conducted on children between the ages of 3 days and 18 years old.

Images remained high quality even with the decreased amounts of radiation. A high percentage of patients had coronary artery problems including anomaly, stenosis, or aneurysm.

The study revealed that crisp, accurate images could be obtained even when decreasing radiation dose by up to seven-fold. In addition, images were acquired without access to the heart. None of the patients age 7 or older required anethesia.

The study will be presented at the Sixth Annual Scientific Meeting of the Society of Cardiovascular Computed Tomography in Denver, which runs from July 14-17.

The research has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

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Review Date: 
July 7, 2011