Background: The application of advanced imaging in pediatric research trials introduces the challenge of how to effectively handle and communicate incidental and reportable findings. This challenge is amplified in underserved populations that experience disparities in access to healthcare as recommendations for follow-up care may be difficult to coordinate. Therefore, the purpose of the present report is to describe the process for identifying and communicating findings from a research MRI to low-income Latino children and families.
Methods: Latino adolescents (n = 86) aged 12-16 years old with obesity and prediabetes underwent a research MRI (3 Tesla Philips Ingenia®) as part of a randomized controlled diabetes prevention trial. The research MRIs were performed at baseline and 6 months to assess changes in whole-abdominal fat distribution and organ fat in response to the intervention. An institutional pathway was developed for identifying and reporting findings to participants and families. The pathway was developed through a collaborative process with hospital administration, research compliance, radiology, and the research team. All research images were reviewed by a board-certified pediatric radiologist who conveyed findings to the study pediatrician for determination of clinical actionability and reportability to children and families. Pediatric sub-specialists were consulted as necessary and a primary care practitioner (PCP) from a free community health clinic agreed to receive referrals for uninsured participants.
Results: A total of 139 images (86 pre- and 53 post-intervention) were reviewed with 31 findings identified and 23 deemed clinically actionable and reportable. The only reportable finding was severely elevated liver fat (> 10%, n = 14) with the most common and concerning incidental findings being horseshoe kidney (n = 1) and lung lesion (n = 1). The remainder (n = 7) were less serious. Of youth with a reportable or incidental finding, 18 had a PCP but only 7 scheduled a follow-up appointment. Seven participants without a PCP were referred to a safety-net clinic for follow-up.
Conclusions: With the increased utilization of high-resolution imaging in pediatric research, additional standardization is needed on what, when, and how to return incidental and reportable findings to participants, particularly among historically underrepresented populations that may be underserved in the community.
Trial registration: Preventing Diabetes in Latino Youth, NCT02615353.
© 2021. The Author(s).