Comfort is important for everyone, particularly during unusually stressful situations. When children have to endure medical procedures, however, providing comfort is vital. Medical procedures, including radiologic imaging, and the strange machines, loud noises, discomfort, and unfamiliar people and surroundings that can accompany them can create a great deal of stress for anyone—especially kids. Fortunately, there is a lot you can do as a caregiver to help your child through these often difficult situations.
Ask your health care providers exactly what to expect during the upcoming appointment. The more you know about everything that is involved in the procedure, the better you will be able to anticipate your child’s needs and prepare to meet them. Important questions to ask include
- What is the exam like? Is it noisy? Will my child have to hold uncomfortable positions? Is it painful? What does the equipment look like?
- Who will be interacting with my child, and what will they be doing?
- Will my child have to refrain from eating and/or drinking for a period of time prior to the procedure? (If so, it’s a good idea to have a snack and a drink on hand for the child to have as soon as possible afterward.)
- Will oral or IV contrast be used? If so, what side effects may occur?
- If oral contrast will be used, what does it taste like?
- How long will the entire appointment take?
- How long will my child have to remain still and/or hold breath?
- Can I stay with my child during the procedure? Will I be allowed to hold or touch my child? What will my child have to do without my help? What comfort support will be available at any time that I can’t be there?
- Will my child need sedation to complete this exam? If so, what side effects are possible? Are there alternatives?
- Will my child be allowed to bring a comfort item (such as a blanket or teddy bear) into the exam room?
If age appropriate, talk to your child ahead of time about what to expect.
Your child’s age and level of development will determine how best to prepare them for the procedure. Very young children need only very simple explanations and reassurance. (For example, “The doctors are going to take some special pictures of your insides so they can help you feel better. I’ll be right there with you.”)
As children get older, they typically want more information and may experience anxiety about the potential outcome of the test. Explain to your child what to expect on a level that they can easily understand. Help them to focus on taking their care one step at a time rather than worrying about what is not yet known.
Make a checklist of things to bring to the exam.
If possible, start making a list of items prior to the day of the exam. This will allow you to focus on your child that day without being distracted by thoughts of what you may have forgotten. Everyone should include
- Insurance card and any required copayment
- Medications that your child may need during the appointment time (as well as a full list of medication that the child takes)
- Any relevant medical records, test results, or referrals that have not already been transferred to the clinic
Depending on your child’s age and needs, you may want to include
- Comfort items
- Music and headphones
- Snacks or bottles
- Favorite toys or books
- An additional caregiver (if you will also have other children in your care during the appointment)
- Clothing that is easy to change into and out of (a 2-piece outfit is best)
Preparing ahead of time by getting information, communicating with your child, and gathering everything you need for the day of the appointment will help you and you child be more comfortable and at ease during the exam. At Iowa Radiology, we strive to make all of our patients as comfortable as possible. If you ever have any questions about an upcoming procedure for yourself or your child, we are happy to answer them. Feel free to contact us for information or to speak to us about how we can make the experience as easy as possible.
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The information contained in the Iowa Radiology website is presented as public service information only. It is not intended to be nor is it a substitute for professional medical advice.You should always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider if you think you may have a medical problem before starting any new treatment, or if you have any questions regarding your medical condition.