The chest radiograph is one of the most commonly requested radiographic examinations in the assessment of the paediatric patient. Depending on the patients' age, the difficulty of the examination will vary, often requiring a specialist trained radiographer familiar with a variety of distraction and immobilisation techniques.
Performing chest radiography on paediatric patients can be for a number of indications 1:
- respiratory disease (e.g. respiratory distress syndrome)
- cardiac disease
- pulmonary tuberculosis
- foreign bodies
- septic screen
- confirming the location of line placement (e.g. PICC, ETT, NGT etc.)
As paediatrics vary in their level of cooperation, various projections can be utilised to suit the patient's needs and age:
- PA erect
- AP erect
- AP supine
AP supine (neonatal)
- performed mobile in the neonate unit
- not often performed in paediatrics
- can be used to highlight pathology in the mediastinum, costophrenic recess and localise lesions 2
Patients should remove any clothing and jewellery from waist up; particularly clothing with metal or shiny decorative material. Plaited hair should be untied 2.
Tips for paediatric chest radiography
Often difficulties in imaging the paediatric chest include:
- motion artefact
- insufficient inspiration
To overcome these, a variety of techniques can be used:
- distract the patient with toys, games and/or conversation
- perform immobilisation with blankets and velcro straps
- use child-appropriate language (e.g. 'stand still like a soldier' and 'breathe in, you are about to go diving underwater!')
Immobilisation techniques will vary from department to department. A radiographer or parent being in the room with the patient holding them still has been cited as a commonly used technique 3 in the Australian context. Other departments will make use of restraint devices, there is debate around the use of 'restraint' and if it fits the category of 'immobilisation' 4.
- 1. Maryann Hardy, Stephen Boynes. Paediatric Radiography. (2003) ISBN: 9780632056316
- 2. Arthur R. Interpretation of the paediatric chest X-ray. (2000) Paediatric respiratory reviews. 1 (1): 41-50. doi:10.1053/prrv.2000.0018 - Pubmed
- 3. Noonan S, Spuur K, Nielsen S. Immobilisation in Australian paediatric medical imaging: A pilot study. (2017) Radiography (London, England : 1995). 23 (2): e34-e40. doi:10.1016/j.radi.2016.12.005 - Pubmed
- 4. Ng Jessica Hui Shi and Edel Doyle. "Keeping Children Still in Medical Imaging Examinations- Immobilisation or Restraint: A Literature Review". Journal of Medical Imaging and Radiation Sciences (2018). doi:10.1016/j.jmir.2018.09.008.