Your hospital experience
If your child has been referred to us for an imaging study, you will want to know what to expect when you come to the hospital or to one of our satellite locations. The links below should answer any questions you have. If you prefer to call us, please phone 617-355-6286 and we will be happy to help you.
In most cases, your child's doctor contacts us to arrange for a particular diagnostic exam. The doctor will provide us with the appropriate information and a member of our staff may call you to schedule an appointment. In urgent situations, your doctor will arrange for your child to have the test that day. If you have general questions about an appointment, call us at 617-919-SCAN (7226).
If your child has been referred to our Division of Interventional Radiology for a therapeutic procedure, you must call 617-355-6579 to make an appointment for a consultation.
If you know that your child needs to have a diagnostic test and you would like to have it done at Boston Children's Hospital, ask your child's doctor for a referral.
Your child's doctor will give you specific instructions about any dietary restrictions required before your child's procedure. If your child needs sedation or general anesthesia, a nurse will call you in advance to take a complete medical history, go over special instructions with you and answer any questions you have.
Before bringing your child to the hospital or clinic, educate yourself about the test or therapeutic procedure he or she will undergo. Read any written information your doctor has given you; you can also find detailed descriptions on this list. Call 617-355-6286 with any further questions.
We recommend explaining to your child in simple terms what the test involves, and why he or she needs to have the test. If your child will be having a radionuclide cystogram (RNC) or a voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG), our child life specialists can be great resources for you. They can offer preparation tips and help ease your anxieties as well as your child's. If you would like to speak with one of our child life specialists, please call 617-355-4050 or 617-355-6923.
Many diagnostic imaging tests require children to remain completely still for a long period of time. Although we try to avoid it when possible, sedation may be necessary for obtaining the images needed to make an accurate diagnosis. Your child's doctor, our anesthesiologist, and one of our radiology nurses will decide whether sedation or anesthesia is appropriate for your child.
If anesthesia will be needed, strict dietary guidelines must be followed or the examination will have to be rescheduled. One of our radiology nurses will call you before the appointment is made in order to obtain your child's medical history and to review the dietary rules.
Dietary guidelines include taking nothing by mouth -- that means no food, water, gum, candy, etc. When you come in for the appointment, a nurse-practitioner or an anesthesiologist will examine your child. All patients undergoing sedation or anesthesia receive continuous monitoring and support from a nurse with special training in sedation. If your child becomes ill prior to your appointment, please call our Nurses' Sedation Screening Line at 617-919-SCAN (7226). One of our radiology nurses will reassess your child for sedation or anesthesia.
Since most of the paperwork should be completed in advance, on the day of your test you may need to bring only your child's insurance card. We also recommend bringing a special toy or blanket your child might like to have while he or she is here. Please ask about any additional preparations needed for your child's specific test.
In most cases, you'll check in at one of our reception areas on the second floor of the main hospital building (Main 2). There, one of our scheduling coordinators will confirm your appointment and registration information.
For magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), check in at the MRI desk on Main 2.
For nuclear medicine procedures, check in at the Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging desk on Pavilion 2.
For interventional radiology procedures, go to the main desk in the Department of Radiology on Main 2. The scheduling coordinator there will check you in or advise you where to go. For more information, call the Division of Interventional Radiology at 617-355-6579.
During your visit, you and your child will encounter several different members of the radiology team. The following is an overview of the specialists who will be involved in your child's care.
Radiologists: A radiologist is a board-certified physician who specializes in diagnosing disease by obtaining and interpreting medical images, such as those obtained through X-ray, fluoroscopy, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ultrasound. Our radiologists specialize in diagnosing disease in children. A radiologist oversees every procedure and analyzes and interprets the results. He or she will promptly report your child's results to the doctor who ordered the test.
If your child is being evaluated for a condition that involves the central nervous system, a neuroradiologist with special training in diagnosing such conditions will be involved in his or her care. If you're coming to our department for a minimally invasive image-guided procedure, you will see an interventional radiologist, a physician who specializes in performing these techniques.
Nuclear medicine physicians: If the test involves a nuclear medicine procedure such as a PET or SPECT scan, the physician involved in your child's care will be a nuclear medicine specialist, a doctor who has expertise and certification in analyzing and interpreting images obtained through nuclear medicine procedures.
Imaging technologists (radiographers, nuclear medicine technologists, ultrasonographers): A technologist is the person who will be performing the imaging tests. We have technologists who specialize in MRI, CT, Nuclear Medicine/PET and interventional radiology. All of our technologists have special training in performing tests and procedures on children.
After you check in at the front desk, you will be greeted by a technologist who will explain the examination or procedure to you and your child and answer any questions you may have.
Nurses: Nurses and nurse-practitioners in our department specialize in the sedation and care of pediatric patients. If your child requires sedation, a nurse-practitioner or anesthesiologist will evaluate him or her soon after you come in. Nurses also assist the anesthesiologist and radiologist in caring for your child during his or her test or procedure.
Anesthesiologists: An anesthesiologist is a board-certified physician who specializes in administering anesthesia.
Child life specialists: Our child life specialists are available by telephone to help you and your child prepare for your visit to the radiology department. They often collaborate with other members of the radiology team during exams, helping children and parents to relax.
The length of your visit will depend on the test your child is having. Please be aware that some tests can take a long time. If there is a delay, the technologist will keep you informed.
What happens during your visit depends on which test or procedure your child is scheduled to have. Your child's doctor will give you some basic information in advance. In addition you can use this list to learn more about diagnostic tests and procedures. The Department of Radiology staff is glad to provide additional information or answer any questions you have.
After the test is performed, the radiologist or nuclear medicine physician will evaluate and interpret the results and promptly inform your child's doctor, usually within a day.