WVU Medicine Children’s using new spinal imaging system

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Pediatric patients with suspected or diagnosed spinal problems, like scoliosis or kyphosis, are now undergoing lower-dose imaging at WVU Medicine Children’s thanks to the EOS imaging system.

The EOS imaging system
The EOS imaging system
(Photo courtesy of EOS)

“The EOS imaging system can produce an image of a spine with nine times less radiation than a regular X-ray,” John P. Lubicky, M.D., pediatric orthopaedic surgeon, said. “The other advantage of this system is that it takes these spine X-rays in two planes – looking from the back to front, and from the side simultaneously.”

Another important feature of the EOS system is that the images are captured while the patient is standing, which is particularly helpful in the treatment of scoliosis patients. 
“If you were to take spine X-rays of scoliosis patients who were lying down, the curve of the spine is going to look smaller than if they’re standing up, and we need to know what its maximum size is and that is on an upright image,” Dr. Lubicky said. “Now, we can produce a 3D image of the spine, and we can make all sorts of measurements based on the images we get from this one exposure.” 
In addition to the decrease in radiation, children also benefit from not having to undergo a CT scan, which can be frightening for younger children, in order for physicians to get the 3D images they need. 
“They don’t have to lie in a scanner, and they don’t need sedation,” Lubicky said. “We can still get all this information that helps us to analyze the anatomy and helps with surgical planning. But the biggest plus is they avoid the large amount of radiation that the CT requires." 
Lubicky said that the goal of using the EOS system isn’t just to diagnose scoliosis in children in West Virginia and the region but to help predict the risk of the condition getting worse. 
“The prevalence of scoliosis is somewhere between 3 to 5 percent of the population. It’s not real, real prevalent. The real task is to figure out which kids are going to develop bad scoliosis rather than those that will have only a very small curve for their entire lives,” he said.  
“That’s why, with these images, you can determine how mature the skeleton is, and you can assign relative risk to how likely it is that the curve might get worse and whether or not it needs to be treated. I’m really happy that we have it. I think it’s a big plus for the kids, especially those who require multiple X-rays over time.”

WVU Medicine Children’s – currently located on the sixth floor of J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital, WVU Medicine’s flagship hospital – provides maternal, infant, and pediatric care for West Virginia and the surrounding region, giving care to high-risk mothers, premature infants, and children with life-threatening conditions through adolescence to adulthood. In 2020, WVU Medicine Children’s will move into a new, eight-story tower and three-story ambulatory care center to be attached to Ruby Memorial. For more information, including ways to support the $60-million capital campaign for Children’s new home, visit www.wvumedicine.org/childrens.