UCSF Introduces KittenScanner for Pediatric Patients

Whether five years old or 55, patients undergoing a CT or MRI scan may find it to be a stressful situation, in part because it is an unfamiliar experience. The UCSF Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging is proud to incorporate familiar and fun aspects into the imaging experience to help normalize the environment and make it less intimidating for our youngest patients.

Most recently, UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital at Mission Bay introduced a KittenScanner into the pediatric waiting room of the radiology department. It is the latest addition to the department’s commitment to our Ambient Experience design, which incorporates lighting, projection and sound to provide positive distractions for patients. With the KittenScanner, we’re involving children in their own care through play, reassurance and effective preparation.

The KittenScanner is a scale model of an imaging machine with four plush foam “patients” available to be scanned by children. Each of the four characters – an elephant, a chicken, a robot and an alligator – have their own story and, when placed into the toy scanner, their charts, story and an image of their insides is shown on the accompanying TV screen. For example, pediatric patients discover that the elephant drank water and has a bellyache, then see a “scan” of the elephant’s stomach with two fish inside. Each of the four plush characters can enter the imaging suite with patients when it’s time for their exams, acting as a familiar security blanket.

The KittenScanner has proven to be an effective educational tool that teaches pediatric patients about the importance of staying still during the imaging exam, an action that benefits both patients and hospitals by eliminating the need for repeat scans or sedations. Plus, the KittenScanner offers positive distraction that helps ease parents’ anxiety by giving them peace of mind. So far, feedback from parents, pediatric patients and staff alike has been overwhelmingly positive.

The introduction of the model is part of UCSF’s Tier 3 commitment to the Ambient Experience. Already, patient-friendly scan suites with room-size murals, moving images projected on the inside of the machine and music and sound effects are helping to ease the “scanxiety” that may be associated with imaging. UCSF’s commitment to Ambient Experience enhances the staff experience through recommendations for effective workflow, storage and organizational considerations.

At UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, the KittenScanner and state-of-the-art scan suites are not the only means of making imaging easier for the youngest patients. From MRI goggles to child life specialists who work directly with families, the hospital relies on the latest technologies and the best-trained individuals to alleviate the challenges that may come with imaging scans. Learn more about how we’re making pediatric imaging at UCSF the best – and safest – it can be by clicking here for more information.

Related Content