Newswise — When a child needs recurring diagnostic x-rays, parents often worry about exposure to radiation. It’s a concern for health professionals, as well. Children are more sensitive to the effects of radiation over time, and that’s why Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) recently acquired a fourth 2D/3D orthopedic imaging system that produces significantly less radiation compared to standard x-rays.
The lower-dose imaging technology is now available at HSS Westchester in White Plains, New York. The other imaging systems are at the main hospital campus in Manhattan, including one at the Lerner Children’s Pavilion.
“Many of our pediatric patients who are treated for scoliosis need x-rays several times a year. We take every safety precaution with all imaging tests, and the low-dose system is another way we can meet the needs of our patients and provide high quality care,” noted Dr. Roger Widmann, chief of Pediatric Orthopedic Surgery at HSS.
“Parents of our Westchester and Connecticut patients have been willing to travel one or two hours to our Manhattan location for the low-dose x-rays,” he added. “The new imaging system at HSS Westchester will make it more convenient for these families.”
Vera Scavone, who lives in Armonk in Westchester County, was pleased to hear that the lower-dose imaging system is now available in White Plains. Dr. Widmann successfully treated her daughter, Grace, for scoliosis, and the new location will be more convenient for any future spine x-rays she may need.
Ms. Scavone learned about low-dose x-rays for the first time two years ago when Grace became Dr. Widmann’s patient at age 15. “I definitely felt better, since Grace needed a lot of x-rays,” recalls Ms. Scavone, who traveled to HSS in Manhattan each time x-rays were needed. “It’s absolutely reassuring for parents to know that the dosage of radiation is minimized.”
“Our goal is to provide high quality patient care. Lower-dose x-ray imaging and other cutting edge technologies enable us to do this,” said Dr. John A. Carrino, vice chairman of the Department of Radiology and Imaging at HSS.
When choosing an imaging modality to make a diagnosis and plan treatment, physicians must balance the need for accurate measurements with the need to minimize radiation, Dr. Carrino explains. This concept, known as ALARA (as low as reasonably achievable), is particularly important in children. Physicians at HSS seek to ensure that the lowest amount of radiation is used to produce images based on the patient’s size and the diagnostic task at hand.
The lower-dose imaging facility is open to anyone who has a prescription for x-rays from his or her physician. One does not need to be a patient of an HSS doctor. Lower-dose imaging is most often used for patients who have scoliosis. The system is not used to diagnose a broken bone; regular x-rays remain the gold standard if a fracture is suspected.
In addition to scoliosis, the lower-dose system is used to assess leg length discrepancies in children. These patients generally require frequent imaging tests to monitor growth, plan for surgery and determine the effectiveness of treatment. A previous study at HSS found that the lower-dose imaging system performed as well as a conventional CT scan to assess leg length.
“HSS was an early adopter in using the low-dose imaging technology and is the only hospital in the U.S. with four units,” notes Christopher Smith, administrative director of Radiology & Imaging at HSS. “The advanced imaging system is the only one available in Westchester County and the Lower Hudson Valley Region.”
Although originally acquired primarily for imaging exams in pediatric patients at HSS, the system is being used increasingly by orthopedic surgeons treating adults who need a hip or knee replacement or spine surgery. The system provides 3D frontal and side weight-bearing images that aid in pre-surgical planning.
The test takes about 25 seconds. Patients must be capable of standing still in the spacious unit and able to follow directions from an x-ray technologist. The lower-dose x-rays are generally covered by insurance.
About Hospital for Special Surgery
HSS is the world’s leading academic medical center focused on musculoskeletal health. At its core is Hospital for Special Surgery, nationally ranked No. 1 in orthopedics (for the ninth consecutive year) and No. 3 in rheumatology by U.S.News & World Report (2018-2019). Founded in 1863, the Hospital has one of the lowest infection rates in the country and was the first in New York State to receive Magnet Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Service from the American Nurses Credentialing Center four consecutive times. The global standard total knee replacement was developed at HSS in 1969. An affiliate of Weill Cornell Medical College, HSS has a main campus in New York City and facilities in New Jersey, Connecticut and in the Long Island and Westchester County regions of New York State. In addition, HSS will be opening a new facility in Florida in late 2019. In 2018 HSS provided care to 139,000 patients and performed more than 32,000 surgical procedures, and people from all 50 U.S. states and 80 countries travelled to receive care at HSS. In addition to patient care, HSS leads the field in research, innovation and education. The HSS Research Institute comprises 20 laboratories and 300 staff members focused on leading the advancement of musculoskeletal health through prevention of degeneration, tissue repair and tissue regeneration. The HSS Global Innovation Institute was formed in 2016 to realize the potential of new drugs, therapeutics and devices. The HSS Education Institute is the world’s leading provider of education on musculoskeletal health, with its online learning platform offering more than 600 courses to more than 21,000 medical professional members worldwide. Through HSS Global Ventures, the institution is collaborating with medical centers and other organizations to advance the quality and value of musculoskeletal care and to make world-class HSS care more widely accessible nationally and internationally. Www.hss.edu.