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Resources for Families

Diagnostic Imaging & Radiology - Frequently Asked Questions


How do I schedule an exam for my child?
You can conveniently call our scheduling office at 202-476-4700.


How do I reschedule an exam for my child?
If you cannot make it to your appointment, please call our scheduling office (202-476-4700) to cancel the appointment and receive a new one.


What papers should I bring on the day of the appointment?
Please bring your physician's order and/or referral for the exam (with authorization depending on your insurance plan). We can only perform tests on your child that have been ordered and authorized. If you have a question about your papers, please call 202-476-4700 prior to your appointment.


Does my child need a special preparation for the test?
Some exams may require special preparation for your child. Our schedulers will inform you if any special instructions apply for your child. Special instructions are necessary for all studies with sedation. Call 202-476-4700 if you have questions about your study preparations.


What about radiation exposure?
Children’s Division of Diagnostic Imaging and Radiology is committed to providing the highest-quality diagnostic imaging while minimizing exposure to ionizing radiation. Our staff is attuned to our efforts to optimize imaging procedures with the use of state-of-the-art, well-maintained digital imaging equipment specifically designed for the pediatric patient. While exposure to ionizing radiation may be associated with a small theoretical risk of adverse effects, it is very important to understand that the exposure levels utilized are very low and weigh this fact against the benefit of an accurate diagnosis that will play an important part in the treatment of your child’s illness.


What are the adverse effects of Gadolinium contrast agents used in some MRIs?
In some cases your referring physician will order intravenous contrast for the MRI study, or the radiologist supervising the study may decide that contrast administration is necessary to make a diagnosis.

MRI contrast contains Gadolinium, and side effects occur very rarely. The most common effects of Gadolinium contrast injection are injection site symptoms, such as pain, localized warmth, burning sensation. In some cases, chest pain, back pain, fever, weakness, generalized coldness, generalized warmth, arrhythmia, tachycardia, migraine, syncope, vasodilation, gastrointestinal distress, stomach pain, throat irritation, rhinorrhea, sneezing, dyspnea, or wheezing can occur.

Nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF2), also known as nephrogenic fibrosing dermopathy (NFD), was first diagnosed in 1997 and is a rare complication of intravenous gadolinium administration. Risk factors include: advanced renal disease, age 60 years, history of hypertension, history of diabetes, and in adults with a history of severe hepatic disease/liver transplant/pending liver transplant.

Should your child experience any problems after the MRI study you can call the MRI nursing desk between 7:30 am and 8:30 pm or come to Children’s emergency department at any time.

How do I receive a copy of my child's radiology images (x-rays, CT, MR, ultrasound, nuclear medicine)?
Parents can call our film library at 202-476-3426 to make this request. Please provide at least three days advance notification. The film library is open Monday - Friday from 8 am-5 pm.

Diagnostic Imaging - Departments & Programs - Children's National Medical Center