By: Jessica Pietsch, Imaging – Lead CT, Jennifer Severud –Imaging-Lead Outpatient X-Ray and Martin McLean, Imaging – Lead MRI Technologist
Radiology and imaging are often necessities for patients at Gillette Children’s Specialty Health Care. Imaging scans help to diagnose, manage and treat conditions. In other words, they let us look at what’s going on inside the body. Patients need imaging for all kinds of reasons, including to diagnose conditions such as fractures, congenital abnormalities and spine deformities.
Gillette is a proud member of image gently®, an alliance that promotes using minimal radiation in children while still obtaining high-quality images. Gillette meets image gently standards in the following ways.
• We employ highly trained staff.
• Our staff limits the use of radiation only to the amounts necessary for a specified body part.
• We use pediatric-level doses of radiation.
• We log all doses with the American College of Radiology.
• We also use positive distractions to meet image gently standards.
Positive distractions can help calm patients during imaging exams, providing them with a better experience. Adding elements of fun to an ordinary exam can drastically reduce patients’ stress levels. Positive distractions come with many benefits, including minimizing the need for general anesthesia. Let’s take a closer look at the three most common types of imaging and radiology procedures—and the different types of positive distractions we offer at our St. Paul campus.
An X-ray is in an invisible beam of radiation used to look at bones, organs and other parts of the anatomy. We use X-rays to diagnose scoliosis in the spine, check lower extremities for limb-length discrepancies, and identify fractures, bone anomalies and rare conditions. Though many of our X-ray exams are quick and noninvasive, we make them easier by using positive distractions.
For example, the equipment and walls in our X-ray rooms have bright and colorful decals. They even have twinkle lights on the ceiling. Kids love staring up at those lights! We also have an iPad loaded with games and shows that patients can play or watch during an exam. And, of course, we offer pencils and stickers to our patients at the end of each visit.
Some patients can’t leave their rooms for X-ray exams. For them, we bring a portable X-ray machine (pictured below) to their room. Much to the delight of our kids, this machine is decorated with fish in bright colors. The decals on the portable machine help kids take their minds off the exam, making the procedure less scary and the equipment less intimidating. It also brings a lot of fun into the room.
CT Scan (Computed Tomography or CAT Scan)
A CT scan (pictured above) is similar to an X-ray, but an X-ray is only one dimensional. A CT scan can show images in three planes—top, front and side. These exams typically last from 15 to 45 minutes, depending on the patient’s ability to remain still. CT scans help us diagnose spina bifida, complex movement disorders, brain injuries and more.
Because patients often need to lie on their back during a CT scan, we have two 70-inch TV screens in the ceiling that play movies. Before the CT scan begins, kids can pick one of six different movie themes—from playful puppies to soothing oceans. The options allow kids or caregivers to choose a movie theme that corresponds to their mood that day, further helping to reduce anxiety.
MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)
An MRI is a safe and painless test that uses a magnetic field and radio waves to produce detailed pictures of the body's organs and internal structures. We use MRI exams to detect a variety of conditions, including those that involve the brain, spinal cord, skeleton, chest, lungs, abdomen, pelvis, wrists, hands, ankles and feet. In some cases, an MRI can provide clear images of body parts that are more difficult to see with an X-ray, CT scan or ultrasound.
MRI exams generally take at least 30 minutes for each body part, so longer positive distraction techniques are a must. We offer video goggles and more than 90 videos for everyone from toddlers to teenagers. We also offer headphones so patients can relax and listen to their favorite music.
We want to provide our patients with an amazing experience during their Radiology and Imaging visit. That’s why we work at creating a positive, fun and interactive environment!