UCSF to Introduce Patient- Friendly Scan Suites for Children

Imagine taking in the sights of San Francisco by cable car, enjoying the Pacific Ocean, or being transported to Muir Woods, while listening to the sounds of nature or soothing music… all while undergoing an imaging exam. Pediatric patients will soon have that option while undergoing imaging procedures at the new UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay.

There will be a number of suites, with plenty of options for children, available February 1, 2015 for patients undergoing MRI or SPECT and CT, imaging techniques that look inside the body to help doctors pinpoint any areas of disease and a variety of conditions from tumors and congenital abnormalities, to skeletal trauma. Because these procedures can take anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour, and since certain types of scans, like those among cancer patients, are extra stressful, it’s necessary to design these imaging suites to be as child-friendly and tranquil as possible.

The design of the rooms was the result of collaboration between GE Healthcare and a UCSF team comprised of faculty, staff, patients and their families participating in workshops and “visioning sessions” in which optimal features of the suites were identified and the feasibility of implementing them were discussed. Opinions were also sought from pediatric patients who viewed suite mock-ups.

Most children have never encountered an MRI machine before – it’s not something they see on a playground. Typically they enter an MRI room and hesitate when they’re told to hop on the table. But if instead they’re told, ‘Let’s go take a ride on the boat,’ they’re more likely to be intrigued than anxious. The child-friendly imaging suites enable parents to participate in the adventure, which can ease their own stress.

Currently about 10 percent of our patients, mostly children, need additional images that prolong their examination, and in the worst-case scenario, they might need to be brought back to radiology for a repeat test. With the new suites at Mission Bay, we expect that this number will decline substantially because we won’t have to retest as a result of patients moving (and thus reducing imaging quality), feeling claustrophobic or being too nervous to remain still. Additionally, it’s expected that fewer people will require sedation or general anesthesia prior to imaging. We already have a lot of success when imaging children without anesthesia; recently a 3-year-old patient was able to do this. With the new suites at Mission Bay, we expect our patients’ experiences to be even more positive.

This is just another way in which we are easing imaging for pediatric patients. Learn about our MRI video goggles, and other ways in which we are providing the best imaging care for pediatric patients.