Today, many childhood diseases can be diagnosed with little or no discomfort for young patients. At the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital, our goal is to achieve the most accurate diagnosis for your child, using the least invasive method and the lowest possible radiation.
A Focus on Children's Needs
All of our radiologists, nurses, and technologists have specialized training in pediatric radiology and work exclusively with children. As a result, we are especially attuned to the needs of children and families. Our expert physicians and technologists perform the highest quality imaging studies — all with a compassionate, "kid focus." Patients and their families also receive care and support from our highly experienced, caring nursing staff.
Our young patients also benefit because our radiology department was designed with kids in mind. The décor is bright, cheery, and kid-friendly. This helps make children feel safer and more comfortable during their hospital visit.
Convenient Inpatient, Outpatient Services
Each year, our staff performs more than 40,000 complex and routine imaging studies for children. These studies are read, or interpreted, by highly trained pediatric radiologists with special expertise in diagnosing conditions in children.
We routinely care of children of all ages and sizes, including premature infants weighing less than 1 pound. Here, we offer the full range of diagnostic studies, including:
- Conventional X-rays
- Computed tomography (CT), during which an X-ray beam — made inside a machine shaped like a large doughnut — passes through the body and detectors collect the X-rays after they leave the body. Images are formed using computer programs. CT is often used to study the brain, chest, abdomen, and sinuses.
- Fluoroscopy, during which images are formed with an X-ray camera moved by a radiologist. The most common exams using this technique are upper gastrointestinal studies, contrast enemas, voiding cystourethrography, and oropharyngeal motility/swallowing studies with pediatric speech and language pathologists.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), during which radio waves — the same frequency as color TV waves — and a powerful magnetic field are passed through the body. As with CT, the machine is shaped like a doughnut. Images are formed using computer programs. MRIs are often used on the brain and spine, although the heart, joints, and other parts of the body can be evaluated.
- Ultrasound, which uses sound waves to make images of the kidney, brain, liver, gallbladder, and other areas. The direction and speed of blood flow can also be evaluated (Doppler).
We also perform ultrasound-guided interventional procedures, such as fluid drainage from around the lungs (thoracentesis), removal of pieces of tumor (biopsy), and sampling of fluid from joints (joint aspiration).
All of the imaging services are easily accessible on the ground floor of the hospital.
Making children and families feel at ease is one of our main goals at the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital. In particular, our doctors and nurses know that kids who come to the hospital need to be comforted. So, we never "rush" children through a procedure, even though our advanced equipment enables us to complete many procedures faster than at many other hospitals. Whenever possible, we encourage parents to be present during part — or all of their — child's test. We also provide a private consultation room for families to discuss their child's test results with the radiologist.
Besides our child-centered care philosophy, we also offer the Chicago area's best imaging equipment for children. This includes:
- Digital radiography (X-rays)
- Grid-controlled pulsed fluoroscopy
- 16-slice computerized tomography (CT) scanner
- High field-strength magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with cardiac capabilities
- Ultrasound units with power Doppler
All of our equipment and procedures have been developed specifically for infants and children. For example, our fluoroscopy tests and CT scans are customized to minimize radiation, so children aren't exposed to more than they need. In addition, the technologists expose the smallest area possible to X-rays and cover the ovaries and testes with lead shields during X-rays whenever possible.
A Center for Teaching and Research
In addition to our clinical work, teaching is also a priority at Comer Children's. As a teaching hospital, we routinely train residents, medical students, and colleagues on principles of pediatric radiology. Each spring, we host a general radiology review course with a half-day session devoted to pediatric radiology that attracts radiologists from around the country.
We are also actively engaged in research studies to advance the practice of pediatric radiology.