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Pediatric imaging solutions are delivering big benefits to small patients

by John W. Mitchell, Senior Correspondent | June 08, 2015
CT MRI Rad Oncology Pediatrics Primary Care X-Ray
From the June 2015 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

“Children and parents experience anxiety when they don’t know what to expect regarding the particulars of a medical imaging exam,” says Linda Tait, product manager, MR business unit at Siemens. “I have two children who are into superheroes, and their familiarity with – and enthusiasm for – superhero comics helped inform me when determining the kit’s design elements. We, including Dr. Min, visited and talked to Marvel, and the various elements of the kit fell into place,” Tait says.

The resulting storyline of the MRI Heroes Kit comic book centers around Captain America’s visit to a hospital to have his shoulder – injured in a battle with evil robots – checked out at the insistence of his friend Iron Man. There, he meets a little girl who has just finished an MRI scan and she helps the superhero get an MRI. Both Min and Tait said Siemens is looking to expand the kits (which also include plush toys of Captain America and Iron Man) to nationwide distribution, based on the growing number of inquiries it has received from children’s imaging programs. Min said they are collecting data on the effectiveness of the Captain America and Iron Man products in reducing pediatric anxiety over the MRI exam.

“My sense is that it is greatly reducing the need for sedation,” says Min. “Since we’ve adopted the Heroes program, we’ve been able to eliminate the use of sedation in most pediatric patients four and older.”

Results from a Johns Hopkins Hospital study found similar results. The patient sample achieved a 10 percent reduction in anesthesia administered to patients between the ages of five and 10 and a 4 percent reduction in all pediatric patients, by requiring mandatory pre-test counseling with a certified child life specialist (CCLS). The CCLS meets with patients and parents ahead of time, as well as on the day of the appointment, to educate them about what to expect during their exam, and makes the final decision on whether the child can undergo the exam without anesthesia.

“Anesthesia will always be necessary in some cases,” says Dr. Daniel Durand, adjunct assistant professor of radiology in the division of pediatric radiology at Johns Hopkins. “But the results indicate that children get to avoid the discomfort and risk of anesthesia, which is also less stressful to them and a cost savings to the parent, as well. If the child doesn’t need contrast, it means no IV is placed. It allows the patient to avoid a negative experience. This is what patient- and family-centered care is all about.”

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