Heading back to school means pencils, paper, homework and germs! During the fall and winter months, there is always an increase in respiratory infections–as well as an increase in the number of patients coming to Cincinnati Children’s.
In the Radiology Department, we take pictures of children’s lungs to help diagnose these respiratory infections. The 2014 back-to-school season has started with an unusually large number of children with breathing problems, in part thanks to infections from a new enterovirus that has been getting a lot of media attention.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), most people who get the enterovirus are only mildly sick, with symptoms similar to the common cold. But infants, children, teenagers and anyone with a weakened immune system is more likely to become very sick with the virus. If your child is very sick and has respiratory symptoms that cause concern for pneumonia, the doctor may order a chest x-ray. Occasionally, there is a more severe or complicated problem found and a chest CT might be necessary for more in-depth diagnosis and treatment planning. Our radiology technologists are experienced in obtaining these images quickly and safely, and our pediatric radiologists are skilled in making accurate diagnoses from the imaging.
Sometimes parents and families are concerned about coming to the hospital during a time when respiratory infections are so common, worrying that they might actually get an infection at the hospital. Our radiology department worries about that also! However, all hospital employees, including our technologists, take extra precautions in these situations to prevent the spread of infection. The technologist may wear special protective gowns, gloves, masks and eye protection to keep everyone safe. Dressed like this we might look intimidating or even a little scary to your child, but know that we will do our best to put her at ease. All of our equipment is routinely cleaned and the imaging cameras that touch your child are cleaned after every encounter. Hand washing is also a very important part of keeping infection from spreading, so all radiology staff will clean their hands before and after every interaction with you and your child.
Hopefully, you will never have to come to our radiology department for any breathing issues or concerns, but if you do, please know our team will work effectively and quickly to get the imaging results needed for your child–and that his safety and care are our highest priorities.
Contributed by Dr. Brian Coley, Radiologist in-Chief and edited by Catherine Leopard, Child Life Specialist.