Medical Monday: Pediatric spine scans

The average child gets about seven radiation-dependent scans before age 18 — either because they’re sick or because they’ve been injured.

Too much radiation in children has been linked to cancer later in life, but a new device reduces radiation exposure and its nasty side effects.

Each year, more than 100,000 children in the United States are diagnosed with scoliosis, a condition in which a child’s spine has a sideways curvature. In severe cases, surgery may be required. Typically, during surgery, surgeons use computer-aided navigation with an X-ray or CT scan in the operating room.

“It exposes the patient to radiation, and that leads to risks for infection and blood loss, longer recovery,” says Dr. Raymund Woo, medical director of pediatric orthopedics at AdventHealth.

But now a new device is reducing children’s radiation exposure. It is called the 7D flash navigation system.

“It uses the same technology that your cell phone uses for facial recognition that unlocks your cell phone,” says Dr. woo. “So instead of the camera unlocking the cell phone, you have a camera looking through the incision into the patient’s body.”

The device uses no radiation and increases efficiency for surgeons. For kids, that means less time in the hospital, a shorter recovery, and a faster return to a normal routine.

This technology is mostly used for adult patients, but there are two hospitals in the US that use this technology for pediatric spine surgery: AdventHealth in Orlando and Driscoll Children’s Hospital in South Texas.

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