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Faster and Safer

EOS X-ray Machine Making Treatment Easier for Patients Like Madison

Don’t think of a purple elephant.

You thought of a purple elephant, didn’t you? For Madison, a 16-year-old Murphysboro, Illinois, resident, something similar happened when radiology technicians told her to stand still for X-rays as she started scoliosis treatment 3 1/2 years ago at Shriners Hospitals for Children — St. Louis.

“When someone tells you to stand still, it’s really hard to stand still,” she said. “I get kind of twitchy.”

Madison is hardly alone, said radiology technologist Melissa Warren, a 20-year hospital veteran. She’s had to redo many an X-ray on patients who moved at some point during the minute or so of complete stillness that is required in traditional radioography. But thanks to some new technology, many St. Louis Shriners Hospital patients are able to have X-rays taken much quicker. The machine is called EOS, and it reduces the mandated stillness to about 11 seconds. That makes Madison smile.

“It’s a lot easier,” she said. “When you don’t have to stand still so long, you don’t worry about getting twitchy.”

The St. Louis Shriners Hospital machine comes with many advantages beyond the stillness factor, said Scott Luhmann, M.D., chief of staff.

One of the biggest advantages is that it gets a more complete image with much less radiation than the already-safe levels of traditional X-rays. This is beneficial to Shriners Hospitals patients, many of whom might have dozens over the course of their treatment. In some situations, the radiation is 95% less than traditional radiography and equals what a person naturally absorbs over the course of a week simply by being a citizen of Earth.

The device also has a chair with many straps that help patients who cannot sit independently receive X-rays without parents or technicians holding them upright.

“This means they don’t get additional radiation exposure either,” Dr. Luhmann said.

In addition, the machine helps make the hospital more efficient. Less time per X-ray means more patients can be X-rayed.

“When we started using EOS, it really helped the flow of the entire clinic day,” Melissa said. “We can see more patients, and those patients have a much easier time.”

The machine cost $900,000 and was funded entirely by donations. It has taken roughly 20,000 images of patients since it was turned on in October 2018.

Patient in EOS machine

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