From Our 2010 Archives

Harmless Brain Abnormalities in Kids Pose Disclosure Dilemmas

MONDAY, June 14 (HealthDay News) -- Unexpected but benign anomalies are often detected in children who undergo "routine" brain MRIs, and guidelines need to be developed to help pediatricians handle these findings, a new study suggests.

"Doctors need to figure out what, if anything, they want to share with parents about such findings because they seldom require urgent follow-up," senior investigator Dr. John Strouse, a hematologist at Johns Hopkins Children's Center, said in a Hopkins news release.

The most common reasons for MRI testing in children are seizures and headaches, or as a requirement for enrollment in certain medical studies.

Strouse and colleagues looked at 953 children, predominantly black and aged 5 to 14, who underwent brain MRIs before enrolling in a study about sickle cell disease, which they all had. Of those children, 63 (6.6%) had a total of 68 abnormal brain findings, none of which were related to their underlying condition. None of those 63 children required emergency treatment and only six children (0.6%) required urgent follow-ups.

Because unexpected findings often lead to unnecessary tests and fear, pediatricians need to be prepared to deal with such findings, Strouse said. But many feel at such a loss that they either don't have a discussion with the parents or simply refer the child to a neurologist or neurosurgeon for consultation.

"Helpful as it is, imaging technology can open a Pandora's box, sometimes showing us things we didn't expect to see and are not sure how to interpret," lead investigator Dr. Lori Jordan, a pediatric neurologist, said in the news release.

The study appears online June 14 in the journal Pediatrics.

-- Robert Preidt

MedicalNewsCopyright © 2010 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

SOURCE: Johns Hopkins Children's Center, June 14, 2010, news release.





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