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Sedated diagnostic imaging test


What happens during a sedated diagnostic imaging test

Knowing what you and your child can expect when you arrive for a sedated diagnostic imaging (DI) test helps you to be better prepared to support your child. The staff would like you to understand how these appointments are scheduled and how the testing process works.

You will see three different appointments on your child’s schedule when a DI test, such as a CAT scan or an MRI, is ordered and your child needs sedation or anesthesia. Each of the appointments is needed to complete the test and safely care for your child. Each appointment has a separate planned start time and estimated end time.

The appointments you might see on your child’s schedule include:

  • Sedation Evaluation,
  • The name of the test (such as MRI Brain, NM PET scan or NM MIBG, etc.), and
  • Sedation Recovery.

Patient scheduling

When the medical staff orders a sedated DI test, the nurse scheduler who works in your child’s clinic will schedule the test based on several factors. The scheduler will consider your child’s protocol, which type of equipment is needed and available, when staff will be ready to do the sedation, and your child’s age. The scheduler will coordinate this test with other appointments you have for the same day.

Please be aware that older, non-sedated patients may be scheduled between children receiving sedation to provide the greatest number of exams each day.

You will receive an appointment card that gives the following information about the three-part test:

  • Date the test is scheduled
  • Name of the test and any instructions for preparing your child
  • Planned start and estimated end times for each appointment

Sedation Evaluation – preparing your child for testing

For some tests, your child might have to arrive early:

  • For a physical exam by a doctor or nurse,
  • To receive medicine before the test or
  • To have an IV started.

At this time, you and your child will go to a holding area to be seen by the medical staff. All of these factors can affect how long your child will be waiting before beginning the DI test. If a patient’s test that is scheduled ahead of your child is delayed or takes longer to complete than expected, this can affect your wait time as well. When your child needs to arrive early for a test, this is noted on your appointment card as a Sedation Evaluation.

At times you might see patients arrive in the holding area after your child, but they are called forward to complete their tests before your child is called forward. Your child is not being skipped. Some tests and protocols require certain equipment. Your child may be scheduled on a different scanner or might be having a different test or procedure than the patients who went first. Also, your child’s test might require much more time to complete than other patients’ tests.

Sometimes older, non-sedated patients will be scheduled in between the sedated tests, so the younger patients have plenty of time to become fully sedated, and in recovery they have time to wake up completely before they leave. This helps to keep the recovery area from becoming overcrowded.

Time for the DI test

Next on your child’s schedule, you will see the name of the actual DI test, including the planned start time and estimated end time. This is the time your child will be having the scan or test performed. This time can vary based on several factors. The staff might need more time to get a different view or image from the scan or to perform more testing. Gathering more information does not mean that there is a medical issue with your child. It is commonly requested by the medical staff to make sure they receive the most complete test results.

Sedation recovery

The third appointment your child may have scheduled is called Sedation Recovery. This is the time after the test is completed when your child is waking up from sedation or anesthesia, and is moved to a recovery area. Nurses and other staff carefully monitor vital signs, breathing, and alertness to be sure your child can safely leave the testing area. This time can vary based on how quickly your child wakes from the sedation and is stable to be discharged.

A parent must remain in the waiting room while the child is sedated. 

When a test is delayed

The start and end times on the appointment schedule are based on how long each test usually takes at St. Jude. But, many factors can affect the start and end times for appointments. If a delay occurs, a staff member will tell you about the estimated wait time and continue to update you about when your child will be seen. It is helpful for you to choose one family member to talk with staff about updates and delays. By having one person for the DI staff to talk to, you will get the most accurate and up-to-date information to share with your family.

You might be asked to reschedule the test if you arrive later than 15 minutes after the planned start time of an appointment. If this happens, please go back to the clinic and speak with your nurse scheduler.

We understand that delays in completing your child’s tests can be frustrating. When a delay occurs with one patient, the staff may have to make adjustments to many appointments to ensure that all the tests scheduled for that day will be completed as efficiently as possible.

This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.

St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.

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