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For Parents

Your Child. Our Top Concern.

 Making sure your child receives the best care possible.
It is a goal we all share – parents and medical professionals alike. The Department of Radiology at Children's Hospital & Medical Center is committed to providing the safest and most effective radiology and imaging services for your child. 


We know that any time a child has to go in for a procedure, it can be stressful for them and their parents. That's why we encourage questions, foster open communication and assign each of our families a child life specialist, a professional who is trained to hold a child's hand (literally and figuratively) through the process – from talking to them about IV's to discussing what it feels like to be inside an MRI machine.
Thank you for trusting your child with our pediatric-trained specialists. We look forward to partnering with you for your child's well-being.

Want to learn more about the studies we perform here at Children's in the Department of Radiology?

Frequently Asked Questions:

How can I schedule an exam?
What is generally going to happen before the procedure?
What should we expect to happen during the procedure?
Can I stay with my child during the test?
How much radiation is involved in an x-ray? A CT scan?
How can we reduce radiation risk to my child?
How much radiation exposure is in a nuclear medicine study?
How soon will I receive my child's test results?

How can I schedule an exam?
Examinations may be scheduled through the Radiology Department at Children's Hospital & Medical Center, (402) 955-5603 or (402)955-5410.  Children's also offers a number of locations that do not require appointments. Click here for a complete list of satellite and urgent care locations, along with their hours.

What is generally going to happen before the procedure?
 • Your physician will explain the procedure and offer the opportunity to ask any questions that you might have about the procedure.
 • You may be asked to sign a consent form that gives your permission to do the procedure. Read the form carefully and ask questions if something is not clear.
 • Any prior preparation, such as fasting or sedation, will be determined by the procedure and the specific area to be examined. Your physician will give you instructions if required.
 • Based upon your medical condition, your physician may request other specific preparation.

What should we expect to happen during the procedure?
Each procedure – whether an X-ray, CT scan or MRI – is going to play out differently, but let's give you a few of examples.

Abdominal Ultrasound
Procedures may vary depending on your condition and your physician's practices, but generally, an abdominal ultrasound follows this process:
1. Your child will be asked to remove any clothing, jewelry, or other objects that may interfere with the scan.
2. If asked to remove clothing, your child will be given a gown to wear.
3. Your child will lie on an examination table either on his/her back or stomach, depending on the specific area of the abdomen to be examined.
4. A clear gel will be placed on the skin over the area to be examined.
5. The transducer will be pressed against the skin and moved around over the area being studied.
6. If blood flow is being assessed, you may hear a "whoosh, whoosh" sound when the Doppler probe is used.
7. Once the procedure has been completed, the gel will be wiped off.
While the abdominal ultrasound procedure itself causes no pain, having to lie still for the length of the procedure may cause slight discomfort. The technologist will use all possible comfort measures and complete the procedure as quickly as possible to minimize any discomfort.

Following the procedure, there is no special type of care required.

Computed Tomography (CT) Scan
1. Your child lies on a narrow table that slides into a doughnut-shaped hole that's part of the CT scanner.
2. Your child may have an intravenous (IV) line for contrast medication. The contrast medication may be injected prior to the procedure or during the procedure. Let your child's physician know if your child has ever had a reaction to any contrast dye, or if he/she is allergic to iodine. (The risk of a serious allergic reaction to contrast materials containing iodine is rare, and radiology departments are equipped to handle them. A reported seafood allergy is not considered to be a contraindication for iodinated contrast. If your teenage daughter is pregnant or could be pregnant, you should notify the physician prior to the procedure.)
3. The CT physician and staff will be in an adjacent room where the equipment controls are located. However, they will be able to see your child through a large window and will be monitoring him/her constantly during the procedure. If your child is not sedated, he/she will be given a call bell device to let the staff know if he/she needs anything during the procedure. Speakers are located inside the scanner so that your child can hear instructions from the CT staff and they can hear your child respond.
4. Once the procedure begins, your child will need to remain very still at all times so that movement will not adversely affect the quality of the images. At intervals, he/she will be instructed to hold his/her breath, if possible, for a few seconds. He/she will then be told when to breathe. Your child should not have to hold his/her breath for longer than a few seconds, so this should not be uncomfortable. Young children who cannot hold still for the procedure will be given medication to help them relax or sleep during the CT scan.
5. If the CT scan is being done "with and without contrast," your child will receive contrast medication through an IV about halfway through the procedure. He/she may feel warm or flushed just after the dye goes into the vein. This is a normal feeling and it will go away shortly.
6. Once the procedure is finished, the table will slide out of the scanner. If your child received medication for relaxation or sleep, he/she will be monitored until the medication wears off and he/she is awake again. If an IV was inserted, it will be taken out after the procedure is over and your child is awake.
7. You may be asked to wait for a short time while the radiologist reviews the scans to make sure they are clear and complete. If the scans are not sufficient to obtain adequate information, additional scanning may be done.
8. The test normally takes approximately 15-to-30 minutes.

Without sedation, your child should be able to resume normal activities immediately, unless your child's physician instructs you otherwise.
With sedation, your child may feel groggy, tired, or sleepy for a period of several hours after the procedure. However, the sedation effects should disappear within a day or so.
Depending on the results of the CT scan, additional tests or procedures may be scheduled, to gather further diagnostic information.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
1. In preparing for the exam , make sure your child is not wearing any metal jewelry, hair clips, or barrettes, as these will have to be removed prior to the test.
Please tell the MRI tech if your child has any of the following:
Prior heart surgery or has a pacemaker.
Prior brain surgery.
Prior ear surgery or a cochlear implant.
Has shunts or stents.
Has any type of pump.

MRI scanners are very large magnets. They will pull on certain types of metals. It is important to talk to the MRI techs prior to entering an MRI room for this reason. MRI does not use radiation; therefore it is a very safe exam for children.
NOTE;If your child's physician schedules a MRI scan and decides to use contrast dye to enhance the pictures, you will need to let your child's physician know if your child has ever had prior surgeries or has kidney problems.
2. Children may receive a mild sedative before the procedure to make them feel more comfortable, and to help them to remain still and quiet during the procedure, which may last 30 to 60 minutes.
3. Your child will lie on a spongy table that slides into the hollow tube-shaped scanner.
4. The MRI physician and staff will be in an adjacent room where the equipment controls are located. However, they will be able to see your child through a large window and will be monitoring him/her constantly during the procedure. If your child is not sedated, he/she will be given a call bell device to let the staff know if he/she needs anything during the procedure.
5. The MRI scanning machine makes loud banging or knocking noises when adjustments are being made. Your child will wear a set of headphones to help protect his/her ears from the noise of the scanner and to hear instructions from the MRI staff. Music or a movie soundtrack may be played in the headphones when instructions are not being given.
6. Once the procedure begins, your child will need to remain very still at all times so that movement will not adversely affect the quality of the images. At intervals, he/she will be instructed to hold his/her breath, if possible, for a few seconds. He/she will then be told when to breathe. Your child should not have to hold his/her breath for longer than a few seconds, so this should not be uncomfortable. Young children who cannot remain still for the procedure will be given medication to help them relax or sleep during the MRI scan.
7. If the MRI scan is being done "with and without contrast," your child will receive contrast medication through an IV about halfway through the procedure.
8. Once the procedure is finished, the table will slide out of the scanner. If your child received medication for relaxation or sleep, he/she will be monitored until the medication wears off and he/she is awake again. If an IV was inserted, it will be taken out after the procedure is over and your child is awake.
9. The test normally takes approximately 30 to 60 minutes. Many times, your physician will order more than one MRI exam. If that is the case, the procedure will take longer than 60 minutes.

Without sedation, your child should be able to resume normal activities immediately, unless your child's physician instructs you otherwise.
With sedation, your child may feel groggy, tired, or sleepy for a period of several hours after the procedure. However, the sedation effects should disappear within a day or so.
Depending on the results of the MRI, additional tests or procedures may be scheduled, to gather further diagnostic information.

Bone Densitometry
Procedures may vary depending on your condition and your physician's practices, but generally, bone densitometry follows this process:
1. In some cases, your child may stay dressed but will be asked to remove all metallic objects, such as belt buckles, zippers, coins, keys, and jewelry. In other cases, your child will be given a gown to wear so that no buttons, zippers, or hooks will interfere with the imaging process.
2. Your child will be positioned on an x-ray table, lying flat. Their legs will be supported on a padded box which serves to flatten the pelvis and lumbar spine.
3. Under the table, a photon generator will pass slowly beneath your child, while an x-ray detector camera will pass above the table, parallel to the photon generator beneath, projecting images of the lumbar and hip bones onto a computer monitor.
4. After the scan of the lumbar and hip bones is complete, your child's foot will be inserted into a brace that moves their non-dominant hip (the side they use the least) into an internally-rotated position, and the previous imaging procedure is repeated.
5. In a limited number of cases, the radius, one of the two bones of the lower arm, will be imaged next. In these cases, the non-dominant arm (the arm your child uses the least) is usually examined, unless there is a history of a fracture of that arm.
6. The computer will calculate the amount of photons that are not absorbed by the bones to determine the bone mineral content. The bone mineral density will then be calculated by the radiologist.
While the bone densitometry procedure itself causes no pain, the manipulation of the body part being examined may cause some discomfort or pain, particularly in the case of a recent injury or invasive procedure such as surgery. The technologist will use all possible comfort measures and complete the procedure as quickly as possible to minimize any discomfort or pain.

There is no special type of care following bone densitometry testing. Your child may resume usual diet and activities, unless their physician advises you differently.

Can I stay with my child during the test?
The answer largely depends on the test. Here are a few examples:
 •Parents are allowed to stay with their child during an ultrasound procedure as there is no radiation involved.
 •Parents may be able to stay with their child in the MRI room until he/she becomes sleepy, but are usually asked to wait in another area during the procedure. One or both parents may be allowed to stay with their child during the procedure under certain conditions.
 •During a CT scan, parents may be able to stay with their child in the scan room until their child becomes sleepy, but are usually asked to wait in another area during the procedure to avoid exposure to unnecessary radiation.

How much radiation is involved in an x-ray? A CT scan?
We all are exposed to small amounts of radiation daily from soil, rocks, building materials, air, water, and cosmic radiation. This is called naturally occurring background radiation. The radiation used in X-rays and CT scans has been compared to background radiation we are exposed to daily.
 This comparison may be helpful in understanding relative radiation doses to the patient.
Radiation Source Days Background Radiation
Background..............................................................1 day
Chest X-ray (single)..................................................1 day
Head CT..................................................................up to 8 months
Abdominal CT...........................................................up to 20 months
Source: www.imagegently.com)

Whenever radiation is involved in a procedure at Children's, our pediatric-trained specialists take every precaution to ensure that the amount of radiation used is the bare minimum necessary to achieve an accurate result.

Our CT doses are "child size" to decrease the long term cancer risk to children. We also provide alternatives to CT, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ultrasound.

How can we reduce radiation risk to my child?
We know radiation exposure is a key concern for parents. Rest assured, whenever radiation is involved in a procedure at Children's – whether it's a conventional x-ray, a CT scan or a nuclear medicine or fluoroscopy exam – our pediatric-trained specialists take every precaution to ensure that the amount of radiation used is the bare minimum necessary to achieve an accurate result.

At Children's, we only use CT scans when absolutely necessary (emergent trauma cases, for example), deferring to ultrasound or MRI, whenever feasible, to minimize radiation exposure. When CT scans are required, our CT doses are "child size," carefully calculated to decrease the long term cancer risk to children.

Our Radiology Department supports and adheres to the recommendations of the Image Gently Campaign, an initiative of the Alliance for Radiation Safety in Pediatric Imaging. The campaign goal is to increase awareness of the opportunities to promote radiation protection in the imaging of children.

How much radiation exposure is in a nuclear medicine study?
Your child will be exposed to a very small amount of radiation that is within the lower range of what is received from routine diagnostic imaging procedures using x-rays.
Nuclear medicine studies have been done on babies and children of all ages for more than 40 years without any known adverse effects. The functional nature of these exams and the low doses of radiation used make it a safe and effective diagnostic tool in children. The radiation exposure that is received from a nuclear medicine study comes from the radiotracer (radioisotope) and the amount of radiation exposure varies, depending on the type of study.

Nuclear medicine specialists are committed to ensuring that your child receives the smallest radiation dose needed to obtain the desired result. They follow the ALARA (As Low As Reasonably Achievable) principle.

The dose of radiotracer is determined by the patient's body weight, the reason for the study and the body part being imaged. The radiotracers administered have very short physical half-lives which means they decay quickly into non-radioactive forms. In addition, part of the radiotracer leaves the body by natural means such as the urine. In some cases drinking plenty of fluids and frequent urination can help some radiotracers to pass through the body faster.

Some parents may wonder about the exposure to the radiation emanating from their child who has been administered radioactivity as part of a nuclear medicine procedure. In practically all cases, this exposure is a very small fraction (less than 2%) of the radiation all of us receive each year from natural sources.

This is roughly equivalent to the radiation dose received from a flight between Boston and Los Angeles. Thus, in most cases, the parent can choose to stay with their child during the procedure.
 (Source: www.imagegently.com)

How soon will I receive my child's test results?
If it is an emergent matter, the referring physician will be notified immediately after test results are interpreted. (Interpretation of test results may take at least 30 minutes. It may, then, take 30 minutes or more for the referring physician to respond.) In cases that are non-emergent, results will be communicated to the referring physician in a timely manner.

© Children's Hospital & Medical Center | In Affiliation with University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Medicine