What is a Pediatric Radiologist?

UVA pediatric radiologist meets with a girl and her mother

You take your child to a pediatrician, AKA “children’s doctor” for checkups. So why wouldn’t you take your child to see a pediatric radiologist? Read on to learn about what a pediatric radiologist does, how they’re different from radiologists for adults, and why you should seriously consider taking your child to a hospital with pediatric radiologists.

What Does a Pediatric Radiologist Do?

A radiologist is a medical doctor who uses imaging machines like MRI or ultrasound. They use these to detect, diagnose, and treat certain injuries and medical conditions. A pediatric radiologist specializes in working with and interpreting images of kids (infants, children, and teenagers). They use the images from these exams to recommend the next steps in the child’s care. This report is then passed on to the child’s physician.

Children’s bodies are still growing and developing. If a pediatric radiologist needs to order an imaging exams that uses radiation (like X-ray exams or CT scans), they do not treat children the same as adults. Children are more sensitive to radiation. Pediatric radiologists always take that into account.

At UVA, our pediatric radiologists will ensure that your child receives the lowest possible dose of radiation. This is known as “imaging gently.” It is impossible to take certain images without some radiation. With that in mind, we make sure to calculate the smallest amount necessary.

Two girls spend time in the UVA pediatric radiology department

Why See a Pediatric Radiologist?

Pediatric radiologists work only with children. This subspecialization means they have trained to understand the unique needs of children. It also means they have spent a lot of time learning specifically how to look for illnesses and medical conditions that are unique to children. They know exactly what to look for and where to look for it.

“One of the most important jobs of a radiologist is recognizing normal from abnormal,” said Pediatric Radiologist Dr. Lydia Kuo-Bonde. “Pediatric radiology is special because there is a large spectrum of normal and abnormal variants. This requires knowledge and familiarity with the developing child in order to prevent harm as well as appropriately diagnose problems.”

Since they are highly specialized, pediatric radiologists are extremely familiar with reading children’s scans. This experience helps them develop a very careful and perceptive eye for things that might otherwise be easier to miss for those less familiar with pediatric scans. Your child’s images are in the best hands with a pediatric radiologist.

“Another important role of the pediatric radiologist,” continues Dr. Kuo-Bonde, “is working closely with the pediatricians and pediatric specialists to guide treatment and give a voice to children who may not be able to verbalize or identify what is wrong.”

UVA radiologist explains a procedure to a mother and child

Pediatric Radiology at UVA

At UVA, we are dedicated to providing the lowest radiation and safest high-quality imaging possible. Our pediatric radiologists have trained intensively to focus on imaging for children and teens.

Our staff in pediatric imaging work hard to reduce exam anxiety for kids. We provide numerous resource materials for parents, and we employ child-soothing methods wherever possible. Feel free to ask our pediatric radiologists for any anxiety-reducing methods they use, like this model MRI machine for your child to test before they see the real machine. We also have movies for them to watch during their exam and fun rewards like bubbles and stamps for them afterward.

Safety is our top priority when imaging children, so we have our equipment checked and monitored regularly so that we can be certain it is using the least radiation and producing the best images.

UVA Cavman and pediatric radiologists stand with children and parents

UVA Pediatric Radiology

At UVA Health System, we have a division of pediatric imaging ready to help your family. We offer many types of evaluations for children. When it comes to your child’s well-being and care, be sure to stay informed. Work with your pediatrician to make the best plan for your child’s healthcare.

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