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CHOP at Virtua imaging with sedation: For children only

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Five-year-old Ben’s childhood had been put on hold. For months, he had been plagued with severe, debilitating headaches.

“Watching him suffer was breaking my heart. While the other kids are out playing, Ben watches at the window,” says his mom Christine. “Ben’s pediatrician recommended that we take Ben to the Virtua Voorhees Pediatric Imaging Center for an MRI of his brain to make a definitive diagnosis and rule out certain conditions.”

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a test that generates three-dimensional images of internal organs and tissues. But unlike an x-ray, which takes a few minutes, most patients must lie still in an MRI machine for at least an hour. Further, the MRI machine makes loud noises that stop and start. It can be unnerving for an adult, let alone a five year old.

“We realize that it’s difficult for some children to lie very still in the machine for a long time under these conditions,” says Asef Khwaja, MD, CHOP radiologist and medical director of the Virtua Pediatric Imaging Center. “But the test was necessary for Ben so that we could make a correct diagnosis.”

Andrea Bennett, MD, a CHOP pediatrician, explains: “We prepare some patients for the test by showing them a kid-friendly, mock MRI machine with a puppet inside. Many children remain understandably anxious about the test, so we recommend sedation.”

Many times, a Virtua child life specialist is called in to make the imaging study less daunting for the child by previewing what the test will be like in a kid-friendly way.

Ben passed his pre-sedation assessment with flying colors. And while the MRI machine was at work, Ben was fast asleep. “Dr. Bennett and the sedation team administered the medication and monitored Ben throughout his MRI,” says Christine. “Before we knew it, the MRI was over. They woke Ben up, and we were able to go home.”

Thankfully, Ben’s MRI showed no abnormalities. His headaches ultimately turned out to be a reaction to a medication he had taken, and all is well – thanks to the CHOP at Virtua team and one resilient little boy.

Imaging for kids
Virtua Pediatric Diagnostic Imaging in partnership with CHOP provides advanced imaging services for the lowest radiation dose possible for kids. This includes a 64-slice computed tomography (CT scan), which offers precise views of any rapidly moving region of the body including the heart. For more information about pediatric imaging, call 1-855-VIRTUA-4.