What to expect during your visit

radiology 9

Answering questions, soothing anxiety

At Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, we know that caring for kids and families means caring for both their physical and emotional needs. When your child is scheduled for a diagnostic radiology test — a detailed image of the structure and inner workings of the body — both you and your child may have questions about it, such as why the test is necessary, what equipment will be used, and how to prepare. You or your child might also be nervous. Don’t worry — we’ll make the process as comforting and informative as we can.

The first meeting

The way we first meet a child depends on each patient’s situation. If there’s been an accident – like a fall or a car crash – radiology tests are typically done on to check for problems such as broken bones, internal bleeding or organ damage. If your child has unexplained pain or other worrisome symptoms, imaging scans can reveal if organs or tissue are inflamed, infected or growing abnormally. 

Imaging tests may be done on an inpatient or outpatient basis. In short, there’s no shortage of reasons your child may need radiology tests when they’re hurt or sick. Our program provides diagnostic imaging for essentially all of the clinical services offered at Children’s.

Preparing for a visit

If imaging tests are scheduled in advance, we encourage you to pre-register online a few days before your child’s appointment. Or, you may call the admitting department the day before your child’s visit.

To help us complete initial paperwork and concentrate on your child’s care, it’s best to arrive well before your scheduled appointment — 30 minutes before for patients who don’t need sedation and 60 minutes before for those who need sedation. That way, we can zip through the registration and insurance process (remember to bring your insurance card and co-pay) and concentrate on what’s most important to us — talking with you and taking great care of your child.

Keep in mind that while the radiology staff tries to stick to scheduled appointments, occasionally a child requires more time than usual to complete a test. We ask for your cooperation if you are asked to wait for another child’s test to be finished. If necessary, we’ll take extra time for your child as well.

Supporting your child during testing

While many imaging tests are painless and easy, imaging equipment can be intimidating. So we take the time to make kids comfortable and explain each step of a test. Child life specialists, who are trained to help children understand and cope with medical procedures, are at the ready to help put your child at ease. You might also wonder how you can help your child relax. Here’s how:

  • Practice makes perfect. Practice relaxing and being still with your child. Ask her to imagine she’s in her favorite place or doing her favorite activity.
  • Keep busy. Consider bringing some of your child’s favorite books or quiet toys with you to the hospital to read or play with during waiting periods.
  • Know what to expect. Some kids and adolescents worry about being touched by someone other than you. If this concerns your child, explain that this touching is necessary because it will help doctors find out how his body is working.
  • Ask away. Ask your child how much she wants to know about the test while it’s happening. Some children want to be told each step of the procedure in advance and while it’s occurring, while others don’t want all the detail — they simply want to be distracted and supported. Ask your child about this in advance so you can let the staff know her preferences.
  • Use praise often. Tell your child how well he’s doing during the procedure (if you’re in the exam area with him). Be specific: “You’re holding still. Good for you!” or “You’re doing just what we asked you to do!” These are very helpful phrases.
  • Ask open-ended questions. Questions that engage your child in conversation may be more effective during stressful moments. Rather than ask, “We’re going to have a great time when we go swimming, aren’t we?” try “Which swimsuit do you want to wear when we go swimming?” or “Tell me what you like to do when we go to the pool.”

Rules of the (radiology) road

When visiting Children’s for radiology testing, please keep these requirements in mind. 

Pregnant? Please take a seat in the waiting area. Pregnant women can’t be in the exam room — except for the nuclear medicine and ultrasound rooms. If you’re expecting, please arrange to have a family member or friend older than age 18 accompany your child into the examination room during the test.

Schedule special visits for after testing. We love visitors, but unfortunately we can’t host them in our radiology exam rooms. Family or friends under the age of 18 aren’t allowed to remain in exam rooms during testing.

Sibs, see you soon. With the exception of the ultrasound room, siblings aren’t allowed in the exam room during testing. Please arrange for an adult to accompany them in the waiting area.


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