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Science
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Tuesday 21:00-21:30
Repeat Wednesday 16:30
Dr Mark Porter gives listeners the low-down on what the medical profession does and doesn't know. Each week an expert in the studio tackles a particular topic and there are reports from around the UK on the health of the nation - and the NHS.
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LISTEN AGAINListen 30 min
Listen to 21 June
PRESENTER
DR MARK PORTER
Dr Mark Porter
PROGRAMME DETAILS
Tuesday 21 June 2005
Alder Hey Hospital, Liverpool

Full programme transcript >>

Alder Hey Hospital  

Alder Hey children's hospital opened its doors in 1848, even before Great Ormond Street.

Today 200,000 patients are seen - about 1/3 in Accident and Emergency, and the rest by referrals to the many specialists at the hospital.

Dr Mark Porter visits the Liverpool hospital and finds out about the range of treatments there.

Constipation
The paediatricians who run the general clinics - like Dr Madeleine Pipon - have to deal with everything from urinary infections to constipation.

When children come in with constipation problems, the first thing which is checked is their diet as most sufferers won't be eating enough fibre or drinking enough water to maintain a healthy gut.

If the diet is good, then a little help from medication may be needed.

Headaches
Others like Steve Ryan specialise in headaches. He believes that up to 90% of younger children (under 11) with frequent headaches actually have migraine.

But the condition is quite distinct from the adult form and is often associated with stomach upsets but has hardly any of the visual disturbances.

Because the blood vessels open or dilate during the painful pounding, special cooling pads on the forehead may bring relief.

Chronic daily headaches are seen in older children, especially girls and the painkillers they use may actually be making things worse.

Brain tumours
Although a parent may worry that frequent headaches may mean something more sinister, they are very rare and most GP's only see 1 or 2 in their lifetime. 

The classic signs of a brain tumour are unsteadiness on the feet, vomiting particularly in the mornings along with a headache that won't go away.

Alder Hey has just opened a new neurological centre, where consultant paediatric neurosurgeon Conor Mallucci runs a clinic along with his radiotherapy and oncology colleagues.

The outlook for benign tumours is usually good and even in malignant tumours the survival rates are around 60-70%, a much better figure than in adults.  Children do tend to bounce back more and recover better than older patients.

Anaesthesia
If a child has to have an operation, parents often fear the anaesthetic more than anything.

But the anaesthetists at Alder Hey are especially sensitive to this and sometimes even put the child to sleep on their parent's knee.

Many procedures which would be carried out on a fully conscious adult have to be done under general anaesthetic in children.

Play and learning
The hospital's play therapists are often used to help the child adjust to the unfamiliar surroundings and reduce any pain and distress during procedures.

The hospital's teachers also help to keep children up-to-date with their schoolwork - or just help them tackle some creative craft projects if they're tired or sick.
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