Advanced Techniques and Technologies


The UCSF pediatric radiology subspecialty balances a long and successful history of caring for children while pushing the boundaries of new ways to see smaller structures ever more quickly. We focus on non-invasive imaging of the pediatric chest, abdomen, pelvis, and extremities. Our subspecialty includes nationally and internationally recognized experts in the performance and interpretation of imaging studies for children.

Advanced Technology and Safety

Having the latest technology at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital allows us to provide the right imaging under the safest conditions for our young patients. We work closely with a pediatric anesthesiologist so that children’s time under anesthesia is minimized. Our outpatient anesthesia is now available every weekday. This allows for greater access and flexibility in scheduling. Also, because of our efforts with child life services, we are minimizing and eliminating the need for anesthesia in an increasing number of our young patients.

Advanced Technology and Safety

In addition, with our very low dose CT technology and know-how, we have dramatically dropped the radiation dose compared to doses used even two years ago.  Fluoroscopy procedures at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital are performed with low dose technology and techniques


We always consider alternative tests, less invasive procedures, or exams that are free of radiation, such as ultrasound or MRI.  In fact, at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital we offer state-of-the-art ultrasound services—an excellent alternative for imaging children because neither radiation nor sedation is necessary.


A multi-modality approach benefits the young patients who require our imaging services.  Among the advanced tools used regularly by UCSF’s pediatric radiology subspecialty are:

Ultrasound or Ultrasonography

Ultrasonography uses sound beams and no radiation to visualize internal structures. Ultrasound is the mainstay of pediatric imaging for screening examinations.


Fluoroscopic imaging obtains real-time moving images of the internal structures. At UCSF we employ a variety of low dose techniques to minimize the exposure to ionizing radiation. Since fluoroscopy uses X-rays to create the images, fluoroscopy is very helpful in diagnosing and sometimes treating problems with the gastrointestinal system and blood vessels of the brain, chest, abdomen, and extremities.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

MRI uses radio waves and a magnetic field to create detailed images without any ionizing radiation. MRI in children produces exquisite images of high resolution and excellent tissue contrast. Children must be able to hold very still or may need to undergo anesthesia, since the images created by MRI can take up to 4-10 minutes to acquire and any motion during this time will blur and distort the image quality. At UCSF we apply special techniques, including MRI compatible movies and music, and have well-qualified medical personnel who help children lay still during MRI and make the experience as pleasant as possible.

Computed Tomography (CT)

CT provides high resolution images, and in certain circumstances, answers questions better than any other modality. CT is fast, reliable, and accurate.

MRI in children

Some of the innovative techniques and technologies that are making a dramatic difference to our pediatric patients and support the clinical and research work at UCSF include:

  • High resolution, high field MRI for exquisite and radiation free depiction of pediatric disorders
  • PET/CT monitoring the status of childhood cancer
  • High resolution CT and CT angiography with the latest dose reduction technology that greatly minimizes exposure to ionizing radiation dose for a wide range of disorders
  • High-resolution ultrasonography for a detailed evaluation of the child from head to toe.
  • Low radiation dose fluoroscopic procedures focused primarily on a detailed study of disorders affecting children’s intestines
3D pelvic MRI

Pediatric Radiology Research

Our radiologists are committed to the ongoing development of new insights and imaging techniques for diagnosis and management of diseases in children. These ground breaking areas include the functional insight into disease processes with molecular imaging, advanced ultrasound imaging, high resolution 3 Tesla MRI, high resolution multi-detector computed tomography, which is helpful in visualizing the small structures in children, and advanced techniques that lower the radiation dose delivered during multi-detector computed tomography. Research in these areas has had, and will continue to have, an enormous positive impact on treatments and care for children.  Learn more