Diagnostic Care for Blood Disorder Diagnosis
State-of-the-art tests, procedures and imaging equipment and specially trained pediatric technicians can help diagnose your child or teen’s condition and define the best possible course for treatment. Pediatric-trained radiologists, laboratory technicians and others work together with the hematologist to provide tests and interpret the results.
A special focus at Children’s is helping your child or teen cope with discomfort that can occur with some tests. This may involve safe sedation (for example, through Children’s award-winning nitrous oxide program), the use of imagery and pain control techniques taught by child life specialists, or other services provided through the integrative medicine department (link coming soon!). If you have questions or suggestions about how to help your child cope with medical procedures, we encourage you to talk to your child’s physician or nurse.
Common tests and procedures performed to collect information about blood disorders include:
- Blood tests. Blood tests can provide information about the kinds and numbers of cells in the blood.
- Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy. In the center of bones is a substance called bone marrow. Blood cells and platelets are manufactured in bone marrow. In a bone marrow aspiration, a needle is inserted in the hip (or occasionally into a different area of the body) and a syringe is used to withdraw a bone marrow sample. If a biopsy is performed, a small sliver of bone is taken from the same insertion site. A bone marrow sample can reveal problems with the number or quality of blood cells and platelets being made. Sedation is used when a bone marrow aspiration is performed.
- CT scans (CT). A computed tomography (CT) scan is an x-ray that produces more detailed images of internal organs, bones, and other tissues than a regular x-ray can.
- Echocardiogram (ECHO). An ECHO is a safe, painless test that looks at the strength and function of the heart. It can determine some problems of the heart. The test used sound waves, like the ultrasound, to create a picture of the heart. The person doing the test will hold a small instrument (transducer) to take the pictures.
- Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG). An ECG is a test measuring the rhythm of the heart by using several leads (stickers with a metal center) placed on different parts of your body. These leads are used to monitor the rhythm of the heart. An EKG does not hurt. Sometimes it lasts 15 minutes, other times the rhythms may be monitored for several days using a small device worn by the person to collect the information.
- Genetic tests. There are many types of genetic tests, which typically are performed as part of care provided in conjunction with Children’s genetic program. Usually the tests are performed on a sample of blood, hair, skin, saliva, or amniotic fluid (the fluid that surrounds a fetus during pregnancy.) Laboratory professionals use the samples to look for changes in chromosomes, DNA, or proteins.
- Magnetic Resonance Angiogram (MRA). A MRA is a type of MRI that is designed to examine the veins, arteries and the blood flowing within them. This test is often used in patients that have sickle cell disease to look at arteries of the neck and brain for any narrowing or plaque build up that could lead to a stroke. Although the test is not painful or invasive, the child needs to lie very still while the pictures are being taken. Sometimes children need to have medicine to sedate them during the test so they will not move. A MRI can take between 30 minutes and 2 hours to complete.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) provides detailed images and more clearly shows the soft tissues of the body. At Children’s, the hematologist and radiologist work together to provide fast, highly-detailed images, which minimizes the time children must remain still and hold their breath during the MRI exam. Although the test is not painful or invasive, the child needs to lie very still while the pictures are being taken. Sometimes children need to have medicine to sedate them during the test so they will not move. A MRI can take between 30 minutes and 2 hours to complete. Intra-operative MRI and 3 Tesla MRI are specialized MRIs also available at Children’s.
- Transcranial Doppler Ultrasound (TCD). TCD’s are a safe, painless way to measure blood flow in the brain. Some children, such as those with sickle cell disease, have a history of high blood flow, or velocities in their brains. This puts them at risk for strokes. Periodic measurements by TCD allow us to monitor the brain’s blood flow for any changes or identify if strokes have happened. A TCD uses sound waves, similar to ultrasound, to measure the velocity of the blood. It is painless and takes about 45 minutes to an hour.
- Ultra Sounds. An ultrasound is a safe, painless test that uses sound waves to produce pictures of body organs and tissues. No radiation is produced.
If you are a family member looking for a Children's hematologist/oncologist or wanting to schedule an appointment, call the outpatient clinic at Children's – Minneapolis at (612) 813-5940.
If you are a health professional looking for consultation or referral information, please call Children's Physician Access at 1-866-755-2121 (toll-free).