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Pediatric Radiologists Cite Barriers to Using Ultrasound Contrast Agents

Survey reveals widespread interest but a lack of educational opportunities.

By
Janelle Weaver, Contributor
Tuesday, August 7, 2018

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Ultrasound is often a first-line imaging tool in the pediatric population, in part because it is radiation-free. Contrast agents for ultrasound are considered safe and can replace radiographic contrast agents in some diagnostic and interventional procedures. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved the ultrasound contrast agent Lumason for intravenous and intravesical use in children for imaging the liver and urinary tract, generating momentum to implement these examinations in pediatric radiology practices.

Shortly following this revised labeling, the Society for Pediatric Radiology e-mailed a 14-question survey to its 1,218 members to assess the current use of and interest in contrast-enhanced ultrasound in children, as well as obstacles to implementation. As reported in a study published in the June issue of Pediatric Radiology, only 44 of the 325 respondents (13.5 percent) indicated that they perform contrast-enhanced ultrasound at their institutions. Lumason was used by 23 out of 26 (88.5 percent) of the respondents who reported the type of contrast agent they used. The most commonly reported indication for contrast ultrasound was the characterization of solid organ lesions.

Although 137 members responded that they are not currently using ultrasound contrast agents, all of them were considering future use. 234 (72 percent) of the respondents reported barriers such as the lack of expertise or trained sonographers, as well as more than one-third of respondents inaccurately cited the lack of FDA approval as a barrier, demonstrating the need for greater awareness of the recently revised Lumason label.

According to the authors, the survey demonstrates significant interest in the use of ultrasound contrast agents among pediatric radiologists, but ongoing educational and training sessions are needed to encourage widespread adoption.