My close friend who works in the pediatric echo lab at the University of California, Los Angeles, recently celebrated the 17th birthday of her first heart transplant patient. As she told me about the celebration, I was moved beyond words – not just because I am also a parent myself, but because it’s the ultimate culmination of what we aspire to do to improve pediatric imaging.
This journey toward a 17th birthday started with an ultrasound scan of this child’s heart more than a decade ago. These can be challenging scans because, as any parent knows, when children come to the doctor’s office they are scared, squirmy, maybe even crying. Parents are also anxious to get their kids back home, so any imaging procedure needs to be quick and done right the first time. And it needs to be done with specific tools that are tailored to the unique anatomies of younger patients. Kids aren’t just small adults, after all.
Innovations in ultrasound and echocardiography since that initial scan have no doubt led to more stories such as this one. And across pediatric care, breakthroughs in other methods of imagining are helping provide the best possible care for our youngest patients. Improving pediatric imaging is critical because it’s increasingly popular today. Healthcare organizations’ investment in pediatric imaging exceeds $6B worldwide and is projected to grow 7% by 2027. Higher incidences of premature births, pediatric diseases, and injuries (all requiring specified imaging devices), as well as more demand for preventive care, are all pushing the need for continued innovation in pediatric imaging.
As a sonographer with an abiding interest in our youngest patients, I truly believe that the pediatric imaging industry is up for the challenge. In fact, I see the industry already innovating to meet this demand by developing new and unique pediatric imaging systems and tools that can quickly, safely, and precisely visualize and diagnose complex conditions in pediatric patients based on their unique needs.
Here are four innovations that I’m most excited about.