Wearing a pair of headphones, 12-year-old Abner Lopez rested his head on a table for an MRI machine at Valley Children’s and watched a video of “Shrek.”
Before the Kerman boy knew it, his MRI exam was over.
Valley Children’s now uses MRI machines equipped with SensaVue systems, which send visual and auditory signals from a variety of media sources to a high-resolution, 32-inch display that can be positioned virtually anywhere in the exam room. Imaging manager Eric Lipe said the new system has helped cut the number of patients that the hospital has had to sedate for tests. Kids who focus on a video or an audio remain still, which is important for imaging.
“If they move, our pictures are blurry, and we can’t see some of the small details we need to see,” he said. “It’s amazing. In pediatrics, it’s less of an anxiety issue for kids, and more to help them hold still. Kids are resilient enough to say, ‘I am not sure about this.’ ”
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Valley Children’s began using SensaVue about a year ago, mainly for patients ages 6 and older. Patients younger than 6 still need sedation for an MRI. The Imaging Department, which sees about 5,500 patients a year, estimates 5% of exams have used the new system in the past year.
SensaVue also is an alternative for patients experiencing side effects from anesthesia.
Lopez, who is in the sixth grade at Goldenrod Elementary School in Kerman, has a brain tumor and must have regular MRIs. He previously had general anesthesia, which caused him to become sick.
His father, Raymundo Lopez, asked whether there was a different system without the anesthesia. About that time, the hospital unveiled its SensaVue systems.
“He tried it and loved it,” Raymundo Lopez said.
Since then, all of Abner’s MRIs have been without sedation. He is checked every three months to determine whether his tumor is shrinking or growing. Doctors have stopped chemotherapy and other treatments.
“It’s important that children talk with their parents about what they are feeling,” Raymundo Lopez said. “I’m very happy he doesn’t have to have anesthesia. He comes out of them without the dizziness and vomiting.”
Lopez hopes other parents become aware of SensaVue on behalf of their children: “I hope the system can be beneficial to other children so they don’t have to get sick.”