About our programs and services
Advanced Image Analysis Laboratory
The Advanced Image Analysis Laboratory in the Department of Radiology at Boston Children’s Hospital allows pediatric radiologists, nuclear medicine physicians, and referring clinicians to maximize utilization of the data obtained from computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasounds, and nuclear medicine exams. The three-dimensional models, fused images, and other advanced post-processing methods improve patient care by aiding diagnosis, treatment planning, and surgical intervention. The images can also be used for patient-friendly explanations and answering research questions.
Our department combines individualized care, specialty expertise, and the most advanced technology for children, teens, and young adults to obtain the highest quality CT scans for children, which provide the most accurate diagnoses. CT helps doctors quickly answer urgent questions about your child's health. In just a few seconds, a pediatric CAT scan can produce incredibly detailed, three-dimensional images of your child's bones, soft tissues, and blood vessels. CT exams performed in our powerful multi-detector scanners are fast, painless, and non-invasive. Some of our CT scans take less than a second and can even tolerate a little motion, making them ideal for patients who are trying their scan without anesthesia.
We use customized CT protocols for each patient, optimizing our CT doses based upon patient size, age, clinical symptoms, and disease processes. Board-certified pediatric radiologists and neuroradiologists with subspecialty expertise in the disease or organ system being evaluated will review and interpret your child’s CT images. Our state-of-the-art CT scanners dramatically reduce the time a child needs to remain still for an exam.
EOS Imaging System
The EOS Imaging System is a diagnostic x-ray designed for spine and long leg indications. The EOS captures front and side views of the entire spine simultaneously in just a few seconds or the entire lower extremity in one image. Imaging data can be used to create a 3D model for surgical planning.
A subset of our pediatric radiologists and sonographers are experts in fetal imaging. We perform ultrasounds and MRIs on pregnant women referred to the hospital's Maternal Fetal Care Center. The diagnoses made during fetal imaging guide treatment both before and after birth. After delivery, in addition to providing sonographic expertise to the Boston Children’s Hospital neonatal intensive care unit, our radiologists guide and interpret the sonograms performed in the neonatal intensive care unit at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
Fluoroscopy is an imaging technique that uses x-rays to create real-time images of the body. Read more:
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Physicians order MRI studies to diagnose diseases. The technology produces incredibly detailed pictures of organs, bones, and tissues without using ionizing radiation (x-rays). Instead, it uses strong magnets, radio frequency waves, and powerful computers to generate two- and three-dimensional images of a given organ or body part.
We use customized exam protocols for each patient based on age, size, symptoms, and disease process. Board-certified pediatric radiologists and neuroradiologists with subspecialty expertise in the disease or organ system being evaluated will review and interpret the MRI images.
3T MRI systems let us achieve faster scans and higher image resolution than the more commonly used 1.5T machines. We have MRI coils designed to fit nearly every body size and anatomic location. Motion-correction software customized for our patients by our specialized physicists and physicians compensates for pediatric patients who may have difficulty lying still.
In nuclear medicine imaging, very small amounts of radioactive materials (radiopharmaceuticals) are used to diagnose and treat disease. The radiopharmaceuticals are detected by special types of cameras to provide very precise pictures of the area of the body being imaged. This technology allows early diagnosis and monitoring of disease and can often make invasive procedures unnecessary. It also complements information obtained from x-rays, computed tomography pediatric ultrasounds, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Some applications of nuclear medicine are used for treatment of certain types of cancer and other diseases. Read more:
- Bone Scan
- Brain Scan
- DMSA Kidney Scan
- Gastric Emptying Study / Gastric Motility
- Gastrointestinal Bleeding Scan
- Glomerular Filtration Rate Test (GFR)
- Hepatobiliary Scan
- Lung Scan
- Meckels Diverticulum Scan
- Radionuclide Cystogram (RNC)
- Renal MAG3 Scan
- Thyroid Scan
- Ventilation Perfusion Scan
Pediatric ultrasound, which is also known as sonography, is a painless, non-invasive imaging technique that lets us look inside your child's body without the use of radiation. It uses high-frequency sound waves to create pictures of organs, muscles, soft tissues, and blood vessels. We perform over 30.000 ultrasound exams each year in Boston, in the hospital's Maternal Fetal Care Center and at our satellite centers in Waltham, Lexington, Peabody, and Weymouth.
We use the latest imaging equipment to perform the diagnostic evaluation that your child needs. Our state-of-the-art ultrasound units are designed specifically for the evaluation of fetal and pediatric patients, including 3D and 4D capabilities. We have a complete assortment of ultrasound transducers or probes, uniquely suited to image the great variety of patient sizes and shapes that we image on a daily basis. Color and waveform Doppler techniques are also performed regularly, on patients of all ages.
We are pioneers in the use of ultrasound contrast agents in infants and children. Ultrasound contrast allows assessment of urinary reflux when instilled into the bladder. When given intravenously, these same agents allow visualization of blood flow to organs, helping to provide important information about traumatic injury, tumors, and inflammation. Ultrasound contrast studies are performed without the use of ionizing radiation and without the need for sedation. We are one of only a handful of centers to offer this option to children in the United States.
X-ray is a common imaging technique used to help your child's doctor evaluate illnesses or injuries of nearly every part of the body. We perform more than 135,000 exams each year in Boston and at our satellite locations, which makes us one of the country's largest general diagnostic centers for children.
The Interventional radiology team performs more than 6,000 minimally invasive, image-guided procedures each year to diagnose and treat diseases in children. Our pediatric interventional radiologists are experts in doing interventions in babies and children of all ages.
Interventional radiology is a minimally invasive way of assessing disease and delivering targeted treatments. Interventional radiologists are board-certified physicians with advanced training in minimally invasive therapy guided by imaging tools such as fluoroscopy (x-ray), computed tomography (CT), and ultrasound. Many diseases that once required surgical treatment can be treated nonsurgically by interventional radiologists with less risk, less pain, and faster recovery time. It is routinely used to perform biopsies and to place shunts, feeding and drainage tubes, and peripherally inserted central catheters (PICCs). It can also be an alternative to surgery for serious medical conditions, such as vascular malformations, blood clots, and kidney or liver abnormalities.
Our physicians, nurse-practitioners, technologists, and nurses are trained in special techniques appropriate to the pediatric patients, and use tools and imaging equipment created or modified for children. Because some pediatric interventional procedures rely on x-ray technology, we have adapted our equipment and protocols to keep radiation exposure as low as reasonably achievable (the ALARA standard) during your child's procedure.
Try Without Anesthesia Program
The Try Without Anesthesia Program at Boston Children's Hospital provides patients of all ages the opportunity to try their CT or MRI scan without the use of anesthesia, when applicable. Since implementing the program, we have had success in getting many of our patients through their scan by using fast sequences and preparing patients before their appointment.
In MRI, movement can cause the images to be blurry so we use a variety of techniques to help children lay still, such as listening to music or watching videos during the scan. Motion-reduction sequences are also used to improve the quality of the images. When available, our MRI Child Life Specialist (CLS) can help prepare children and families before and during the MRI to make the visit as safe, pleasant, and comfortable as possible.
For our infant and toddler patients we invite families to book appointments during their child's naptime as we try to have the child complete the MRI scan while sleeping. We also offer 9 p.m. appointments in Boston so families are able to book an appointment to coincide with their child's normal bedtime. Families are sent the sounds of an MRI camera and asked to play these sounds while their child sleeps in the nights before the appointment.
In CT, our Boston scanners are equipped with the latest technology allowing some images to be taken in less than a second! For our infant and toddler patients, families can book appointments during their child's naptime, and we can try to capture the images while their child is sleeping.
To learn more, please email our Try Without Program. Our program would be happy to review your child's MRI or CT scan with you to determine if a Try Without appointment would be a good option.