Radiology - Patient Education and Resources

Radiology - Patient Education and Resources

Penn State Children’s Hospital offers education and resources for children’s radiology services. 

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Radiology

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Learn more about pediatric radiology

Learn more information about Pediatric Radiology by visiting the resources below:

MRI Scan Preparation

MRI Scan PreparationWhat is an Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Scan?

An MRI scan is a painless test that takes detailed pictures of the inside of the body. The MRI scan machine uses a large, powerful magnet and radio waves similar to an AM radio station to take these pictures. No radiation is used to create these images.

Before the MRI

If your child is asleep or sedated during the MRI scan, you will receive special instructions prior to your appointment.

  • Your child changes into a hospital gown prior to the scan.
  • You complete a medical history screening form for your child to make sure that he or she can safely have an MRI scan.
  • Certain types of medical implants cannot be exposed to the MRI scan magnet. Please talk to your doctor if you have questions about this.
  • Your child can listen to music during the MRI scan. Feel free to bring along a favorite CD or your iPod or iPhone with your child’s favorite music. If you do not have a CD to bring, we can provide an Internet radio station for their comfort.

What to expect during the MRI

  • You and your child will be screened for safe entry to the MRI scan area. Only one adult can accompany the child to the MRI scan area at any given time.
  • If your doctor ordered your child’s MRI scan with intravenous (IV) contrast, the MRI scan technologist starts an IV line. The contrast given through your child’s IV helps the physician evaluate the exam.
  • You and your child are brought into the MRI scan exam room. The temperature in this room is 65-72 degrees Fahrenheit, blankets are available if needed. The MRI scanner consists of a large doughnut-shaped magnet with a tunnel in the center.
  • During the exam, it is extremely important that your child holds still. To help your child remember to be as still as possible, the MRI scan technologist provides some items such as sponges, cushions, or weighted bags, which help to position your child in a more comfortable way that will help them remain still during the exam. Some children may need medication to help them remain still during their MRI scan. If your child has been scheduled for an MRI scan with general anesthesia, a special team of anesthesia doctors and nurses will explain this process to you in more detail.
  • If your child remains awake during the MRI scan, he or she is given headphones to listen to music and the MRI scan technologist.
  • The imaging table slowly slides your child in the MRI tunnel until the area of the body that is being scanned has reached the middle of the machine. During the scan, the exam table may move slightly in and out of the tunnel, or the table may vibrate at times during the exam. The machine will also make loud clicks, buzzes, humming sounds, and bangs.
  • The MRI scan lasts 30-45 minutes or longer, depending on the part of the body being scanned. During the exam, the MRI scan technologist communicates with you and your child via headphones and overhead speakers. Once the exam is complete, you and your child are escorted out of the examination room. The IV is removed and your child is able to change out of the gown.

After the MRI

No side effects should be expected from the MRI. Once the images are completed, they are reviewed by a radiologist who specializes in exams of the body part scanned, and a report is forwarded to your doctor. If your child has received anesthesia or sedation during the MRI scan, the team of physicians and nurses caring for your child review any follow-up instructions.

How to prepare for the MRI Scan

  • Explain your child’s MRI scan in simple terms in the days before your appointment. This allows your child time to process information and ask questions.
  • Tell your child which part of the body will have pictures taken, and about the loud knocking, tapping, and buzzing noises the MRI scan machine makes.
  • Please remind your child about the importance of lying very still. You can even practice this at home.
  • Remember to bring along your child’s favorite music CD if available. A favorite toy or comfort item can be helpful before or after the MRI scan, too!
  • Please be prepared to wait for your child’s MRI scan as emergencies may occur within the hospital, requiring other patients to have an MRI scan sooner.

CT Scan Preparation

CT Scan PreparationWhat is a Computed Tomography (CT) Scan?

A CT scan is a painless test that takes detailed pictures of the inside of the body. The CT scan machine uses the lowest possible radiation dose necessary to take specialized images. This scan generally takes 10 minutes or less, depending on the part of the body being scanned and whether your child needs any type of contrast.

Before the CT scan

To obtain the clearest images in the safest way, some children may need to be asleep or sedated prior to the CT scan, to keep them still. If this is the case for your child. If your child is scheduled for general anesthesia during the CT scan, you will receive special instructions prior to the appointment. Please talk to the doctor who scheduled your child’s CT scan if you have questions about this process.

  • Your child may need to change into a hospital gown. Wearing clothing without metal buttons or zippers can make this easier.
  • Before your child’s CT scan, a CT scan technologist will ask you several questions about your child’s past medical history and any allergies.
  • Your child can listen to music during the CT scan. Feel free to bring along a favorite CD or your iPod or iPhone with your child’s favorite music. If you do not have a CD to bring, we can provide an Internet radio station for your child’s comfort.

What to expect during the CT

  • If the radiologist ordered your child’s CT scan with intravenous (IV) contrast, the CT scan technologist starts an IV line. The contrast given through your child’s IV helps the physician evaluate the exam.
  • You and your child are brought into the CT scan room. The temperature in this room is 65-72 degrees Fahrenheit, blankets are available if needed. The CT scan machine looks like a square with a round doughnut-shaped hole in the middle. Some children tell us the machine looks like a round tube used in the swimming pool.
  • During the exam, it is extremely important that your child remains still. To help your child remember to be as still as possible, the CT scan technologist provides straps, much like seatbelts, which will keep your child safe on the CT scan exam table. Younger children (under age 3) may be placed on a special board that will keep them secure during their test.
  • If your child has been scheduled for a CT scan with general anesthesia, a special team of anesthesia doctors and nurses will explain this process to you in more detail. If your child remains awake during the CT scan, an adult caregiver or parent may be able to stay in the room with your child.
  • While your child is on the table, it slowly slides into the doughnut-shaped machine. The area of the body being scanned needs to be positioned in center of the machine. During the CT scan, the exam table may move slightly and make a whirling sound. Some children say this sounds like the washing machine. The CT scan technologist may talk to your child through a special speaker in the room. Older children may be asked to hold their breath for very short periods of time for certain CT scan pictures.
  • Once the exam is complete, you and your child will be escorted out of the examination room. The IV, if placed, is removed and your child is able to change out of the gown.

After the CT Scan

  • Once the images are completed, they are reviewed by a pediatric radiologist who specializes in exams of the body part scanned, and a report is forwarded to your child’s doctor.
  • If your child has received anesthesia or sedation during the CT scan, the team of physicians and nurses caring for your child will review any follow-up instructions.

How to prepare for the CT scan

  • Explain your child’s CT scan in simple terms in the days before the appointment. This allows your child time to process information and ask questions. If your child is age 2 or younger, talking about this test on the way to the hospital may work best. For children ages 3-5 years, it is helpful to talk about the CT scan the day before the test. Children ages 6-10 may benefit from learning about the CT scan a few days before the appointment, and children ages 11 and older should learn about the CT scan a week or more before the appointment.
  • Tell your child which part of the body will have pictures taken, about the shape of the machine and the whirling noises the machine will make during the scan.
  • Remember to tell your child that the machine taking the pictures will not touch your child. If your child needs an IV for contrast, you can talk to your child about feeling a small pinch, poke or sting when the IV is started but that the CT scan itself is painless. If your child will be awake during their CT scan, please remind your child about the importance of lying very still. It can be very helpful to practice this at home by playing a game of “freeze” or pretending to be a statue. A favorite toy or comfort item can be helpful before or after the CT scan.