Pediatric Radiology and Diagnostic Imaging
Below we’ve complied answers to some of your most frequently asked questions.
Radiology is the use of imaging to diagnose and treat disease. Radiology can be categorized into two different areas: diagnostic radiology and interventional radiology. Diagnostic radiology is the use of imaging to see inside a patient’s body. Interventional radiology uses imaging to help healthcare providers guide devices such as catheters, wires or other instruments into a patient’s body.
While some diseases and disorders are the same as in adults, there are many conditions only seen in children and infants. The unique physical conditions of children must be taken into consideration, thus the importance of specialized radiologists reading and interpreting your child’s diagnostic test. We can help determine the right test, at the right time to optimize your child’s care and comfort.
A CT scan, also known as a computed tomography scan, is used when a very detailed imaging is needed. The CT scanner emits a series of narrow beams through the body. The result is a final image far more detailed than an X-ray image. Hundreds of different levels of density can be seen, including tissues inside a solid organ. This data is transmitted to a computer screen where cross-sectional pictures of the body part(s) can be seen.
For a CT scan, your child will need to lie still on a table that will move through a large donut shaped scanner. It is a relatively quick and painless, though some children may be afraid of the large machine.
Fluoroscopy is a study of moving body structures in which a continuous X-ray beam is passed through the body part being examined. This diagnostic tool is used when physicians need to see a patient’s digestive, urinary, or respiratory system.o . Fluoroscopy is used in many types of examinations and procedures such as cardiac catheterization, arthrography (visualization of a joint or joints), lumbar puncture, placement of intravenous (IV) catheters and biopsies.
An MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging scan, use a magnetic field and pulses of radio waves to create pictures of organs or structures within the body. This information differs from what can be seen with X-rays or CT scans. The area of the body being studied is placed inside a special machine that contains a strong magnet. The pictures from a MRI scan are digital and are transmitted to a computer and can be saved for additional study and review. In some cases, contrast material can be used to show certain structures more clearly.
MRIs can be used to find or review problems in the head and neck, chest, abdomen, pelvis and other areas of the body. They are helpful in finding tumors, bleeding, injury, blood vessel diseases or even infections. And they may be used to provide additional information about a problem originally seen in a different diagnostic test.
An ultrasound, also known as a sonogram, uses high frequency sound waves instead of radiation to create an image of some part of the inside of the body, such as the stomach, liver, heart, tendons, muscles, joints and blood vessels. Ultrasounds are also commonly used during pregnancy to check the baby in the womb and can be used during some types of biopsies.
X-rays refer to radiation, waves or particles that travel through the air and can pass through objects such as internal organs, body tissues and clothing and onto X-ray detectors, such as film or a detector that is linked to a computer. X-ray technology uses electromagnetic radiation to make images on a computer screen . The body part appears light or dark based on the different rates that the tissue absorbs the X-rays. For example, calcium in bones absorbs X-rays the most, thus bones appear white on film. Fat and other soft tissues absorb less and look gray. X-rays are most often used to identify fractures and breaks in bones, thinning and weakening of bones, bone infections, curvatures of the spine and other bone abnormalities.
Radiation and sedation are the two most commonly discussed risks associated with diagnostic radiology. You can rest assured that our equipment has been manufactured and calibrated to allow for the lowest possible radiation dose for our small patients. Using Image Gently® guidelines, we work to ensure that each patient is exposed only to the smallest amount of radiation possible during an imaging study. This includes:
Some facilities may not use radiation dose reduction techniques when imaging children. When choosing a specialized pediatric facility like Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, you can be confident all efforts are being made to reduce the amount of radiation exposure to your child.
If you have specific concerns or questions regarding radiology testing for your child, please speak with your physician. Our radiology team will work with you and your physician to help make decisions that are most appropriate for your child.