Young patients with spinal problems in upstate New York now have local access to imaging technology that substantially decreases their exposure to radiation.
Madeline Luttinger has to get five to ten X-rays each year to track a curvature of her spine known as scoliosis, a condition that affects millions of children and adolescents in the U.S. each year.
Up until recently, that required frequent trips to Montreal, where low-dose radiation technology known as EOS is available.
Now, with a newly installed EOS machine located at the Golisano Children’s Hospital in Rochester, the Buffalo high-schooler says it’s nice to have the healthier option closer to home.
“It’s very easy to use and it gives me a great peace of mind knowing that I’m not getting a very high dose of radiation every time I use it, since I do have to use it so often,” she says.
Dr. Jim Sanders, chief of Pediatric Orthopedics at the Golisano Children’s Hospital, says radiation exposure is linked to an increased instance of cancer in patients as they age.
The EOS machine cuts exposure by at least a third in each scan, and Sanders says that’s significant for patients like Luttinger.
“The higher the dose, the more likely someone is to develop a cancer from it. And since many children come, particularly with scoliosis, who need repeat x-rays over time, this allows us to substantially decrease the dose that children get.”
The machine allows physicians to capture accurate, life-size images from the front and the side simultaneously.
Sanders says this makes it easier to compare scans over time and monitor progress. It also means 3D images can be created to help assess treatment options and allow surgeons to prepare for operations.