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Child-Proof: Brain Mapping Safer for Children than Previously Thought

Dispelling a stubborn myth, researchers at Johns Hopkins have shown that children with strokes, brain tumors and other cerebrovascular diseases can safely// undergo a potentially life-saving brain-mapping test that many doctors have long shunned over concerns for side effects. Analysis of 241 cerebral angiograms performed on 205 children at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center between 1999 and 2006 showed that not a single patient suffered complications during or immediately following the procedure.

Results of the analysis, believed to be the first study in more than 25 years to look at the safety of cerebral angiographies in children, are reported in the October issue of Stroke.

Performed by threading a catheter into the patient’s groin, through the abdomen and the chest and upward into the arteries of the neck, cerebral angiography is the most accurate brain-vessel imaging technique available and a critical diagnostic and treatment tool, says Lori Jordan, M.D., a pediatric neurologist at the Children’s Center and a co-author of the report.

“The assumption that angiographies in children are more dangerous than in adults has persisted over the years-mostly due to lack of evidence,” says study senior author Philippe Gailloud, M.D., an interventional neuroradiologist at Johns Hopkins. “When we ask parents to sign consent for an angiography, their first question is how safe it is, and up until now, we didn’t have any hard data to show them. Given the very low risk of complications we see, pediatric neurologists should not hesitate to order the procedure, and we can say to them that we have research showing this procedure is indeed very safe in children.”

The most dreaded complication of the procedure is accidental damage to a blood vessel that can cause a stroke.

“This is an invasive procedure, so obviously physicians must be careful in determining how appropriate it is in a child, but as doctors, we should kee
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