Imaging Pediatric Patients Takes Flexibility and Creativity
Radiology team at Shriners Hospital for Children shares their imaging insights.
At Shriners Hospital for Children—Cincinnati, we give our pediatric patients the highest form of love and protection possible. When imaging pediatric patients, we make sure we use the lowest possible radiation dose, described as ALARA (As Low As Reasonably Achievable).
We care for children with pediatric burns, pediatric plastic surgery needs, and complex wound and skin conditions. Whether they are an infant or a teenager, we always make their experience as comfortable as possible.
Our radiological education gave us a great foundation, of course. But when working with children, flexibility and ingenuity are as important as our medical training. Often, we need to be as much of a creative photographer as a skilled technologist! Here are some of the techniques we’ve found helpful when imaging pediatric patients.
Techniques for imaging pediatric patients
When doing a whole body X-ray of a young child, we start at their feet. This gives the child time to see the procedure and realize that X-rays do not hurt. This, in turn, reduces their anxiety when it is time to image more vulnerable areas, like their heads.
Distraction toys are helpful for younger patients. We let them hold and play with handheld toys if we are imaging their lower body. If we are imaging their hand or upper body, we have someone play with the toy within the child’s line of sight. And we always have someone lovingly hold the child in between views.
For lengthy procedures, we always have two members of the radiology team in the room so we can complete the radiographs as quickly as possible. This is especially important because we never use restraints to hold our patients still. We need to work quickly in order to capture images during the limited time the patient can remain still.
With patients of all ages, we explain the process to them ahead of time. We let them see and touch our imaging machines and the controls, and operate them without exposure. Parents and guardians are invited into the room with the patient and are instructed to stand within where the pediatric patient can see them during the X-ray exposure
Recently, we purchased a DRX-Revolution system that has several features that add to our reduced-stress atmosphere. We use the portable X-ray machine even when patients are brought to our imaging room. We prefer it because we can immediately see if the images are captured correctly without stepping out of the room to view them. Our constant presence helps reassure the child. Also, we can rotate the capture screen to show the images to the child, giving us another way to involve them and reduce their fear of the process. Also, the brightly decorated aquarium panel wrap is soothing and friendly for all involved in the imaging procedures.
Also, DR imaging is quicker than our previous CR radiography system. Many of our exams, like our Silverman Series, require multiple exposures. Instead of running film in between exposures, we move immediately to the next exposure using the same DR cassette. Less time and more physical contact help lessen the child’s fears. The flexibility and patient-friendly features of the DRX-Revolution support our mission of “Love to the Rescue”.
Mobile X-ray unit brings imaging to point of care
We love the easy mobility of our Revolution. The unit is self-propelled, and the collapsible column gives us good visibility to maneuver it through crowded areas and room to room.
We bring the portable to the ICU, and we bring it to post-op recovery and operating rooms. We use it to confirm proper placement of tubes and lines. The quality of the images is remarkable. Recently, we used it in the operating room to make a rapid determination that was appreciated by the surgeon and medical staff.
We believe that a body needs to be calm and relaxed before healing can take place. Some of us in the radiology department are certified Healing Touch1 practitioners, a therapy to calm nervous systems to give patients an optimal relaxation experience. We deliver the therapy in our old analogue darkroom that we now consider as a special “light room”. It is decorated with calming colors and we play soft music during sessions.
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The Imaging team at Shriners Hospital for Children—Cincinnati contributed to this article. They are Lois Cone, Barb Blakeley, Frani Jackson, Cindy Murphy, Cindy Lee, and Howard Brodsky.