Central Auckland > Public Hospital Services > Starship Child Health >

Starship Paediatric Radiology

Public Service, Radiology, Cancer Network Group, Paediatrics


Paediatric Radiology

Paediatric radiology is a branch of radiology that deals with the imaging of children. Imaging is often part of a diagnostic work-up; finding out the disease or condition that is making a child ill.
Those involved in paediatric radiology have had training in children’s medical and surgical illnesses - conditions which are often very different from those of adults.

The tools of radiology now include plain radiography (x-rays), fluoroscopy (screening, also with x-rays),  angiography (imaging blood vessels with x-rays), nuclear medicine (images obtained after a tiny amount of radioactive material), ultrasonography (ultrasound), computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). All of these tools are available to the paediatric radiologist but the judicial use of imaging i.e. what studies are used and when, requires a close relationship and communication with the clinicians who are requesting diagnostic help, be they nurse practitioners, general practitioners, paediatricians or paediatric surgeons.

The Team

The Department of Paediatric Radiology is a team of medical professionals. The Department is proud to be part of Starship Hospital and pleased to be involved in the teaching of student technologists, nurses, and registrar doctors. Each member of the team has an identification badge.

A secretary/receptionist is usually the first person whom a family will meet when they enter the Department during the weekday hours. The receptionist is responsible for greeting the child and accompanying family member(s), checking the patient’s name, hospital number and other important referral information. There are other secretaries in the Department who are the crucial link between referring clinician and the Department in terms of scheduling special studies. They work closely with the radiologists when there are urgent studies to be done; they are familiar with the protocols and preparations needed for specific studies.

Radiographers (also known as MRTs or medical radiation technologists) are the people who take the radiographs and perfom some of the special imaging studies, alone or with the radiologist. In the evenings, and overnight, they also handle the same responsibilities that a secretary has during the day. They are trained and licensed and have had experience in working with infants and children.  Many of the radiographers have had advanced training in computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or ultrasonography.

Sonographers are the people who use ultrasound scanners (machines that use high frequency sound waves) to produce diagnostic images. In the past, most sonographers were radiographers who then progressed to further training in ultrasonography. Recent trainees have acquired a university or other degree in addition to their clinical work. Sonographers work closely with the radiologists so that the appropriate examination is performed for each child.

Student radiographers/sonographers may be involved in procedures within the Department; they are always under the supervision of an MRT, staff sonographer, or radiologist.

Radiologic nurses are trained in the care of children and have had training and experience in the needs of the child who is in the Department for both routine and special imaging. They are particularly involved in studies that require a child to be sedated. They help in explaining procedures to parents and caregivers and in obtaining consent for procedures.
Radiologists at Starship Hospital are medical doctors who have had advanced training in radiology, and further training and experience in paediatric radiology.


Referral Expectations

The Department of Paediatric Radiology is situated on Level 1 of Starship Hospital. Children are seen only after referral from their paediatrician, paediatric surgeon or general practitioner. Patients are generally from the greater Auckland area, but may be from other parts of the country if they are being hospitalised for special or intensive care at Starship. The age range of our patients is typically from newborn to 15 years.

What is written on the radiology requisition?

Clear information regarding the child’s name, birthdate and NHI number, if known, must be on each requisition (form completed by the doctor requesting the imaging). We ask the doctors who are sending their patients to the Radiology Department to write the reasons for the studies they are requesting, and also to indicate what specific imaging is required.

Plain film, or radiograph, or x-ray all mean the same thing; an image of a specific part of the body from x-rays that pass through the patient and register on a cassette to produce an image. We now use computer screens to view images rather than actual films.

For most parts of the body, we obtain a frontal view, and a side view. Sometimes, we need a third, oblique or angled view, to see all the anatomy of a particular region. For example, some fractures (breaks in bones) are only visible in one plane, although the soft tissue swelling around the site of fracture may be evident on all views.

If the child has had any type of imaging elsewhere, at another hospital or private practice, it is very helpful to have these images available for comparison with current studies. Even if they are not exactly the same study, they can sometimes be very helpful to the radiologist. Parents and caregivers are urged to bring films or disks with them when they come to the Radiology Department.

All requisitions for studies other than plain films are reviewed by a radiologist. Many of the studies that are performed in radiology are written in shorthand on requisition forms. A glossary of these terms and a short description of the study, and preparation needed for each study is listed below.


Paediatric Radiology is available 24/7 to inpatients and to patients from the Emergency Department.

Hours for outpatient visits are from 8.30am to 4pm on weekdays.

Procedures / Treatments

  • Plain Radiographs/X-rays

    CXR        Chest Radiographs (x-ray)

    We usually obtain two views of the chest while the child is sitting or standing.… More

  • Uroradiology (imaging the urinary tract)

    MCU        Micturating Cystourethrography
    In order to be able to assess the structure and function of a child’s bladder, and to determine if urine goes backwards from the bladder up to the kidneys (vesico-ureteric reflux), we have to catheterise the bladder by passing a small plastic tube through the child’s urethra.… More

  • Gastrointestinal Radiology (imaging the oesophagus, stomach, small bowel and colon)

    Ba Sw        Barium Swallow and Videofluoroscopy
    The child swallows barium from a bottle or cup, depending on the child’s age.… More

  • Sinogram/Loopogram

    If there is a tract or connection from the skin into the body caused by infection, or created by surgery, it may be necessary to outline the tract with contrast - the same iodinated contrast medium that is used in vascular studies - before treatment or further surgery is performed.… More

  • Ultrasonography/Ultrasound (US)

    Ultrasonography is the creation and interpretation of images that are formed by high frequency sound (ultrasound), in combination with sophisticated computerisation.… More

  • Computed Tomography (CT)

    The CT scanner that we use was donated by the Starship Foundation with special help from Lucy Lawless.… More

  • Biopsy (BX)

    If a child has a big liver or abnormally functioning kidneys or a mass, and a sample of the tissue from an organ or mass is needed for microscopic evaluation, the Radiology Department may be involved in planning or performing the biopsy.… More

  • Angiography

    If the blood vessels of the body, the arteries or veins, are thought to be abnormal, they can be filled with a fluid that is visible to x-rays.… More

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

    Starship Hospital's MRI scanner was donated by Sir Graeme and Lady Ngaire Douglas and since September 2010, a full service, including scans under general anaesthesia, has been operational.… More

  • Nuclear Medicine/Radionuclide Scanning

    Starship Hospital does not have its own department of Nuclear Medicine.… More

Services Provided

Hospitals and cancer treatment centres

  • Public hospitals

Cancer Types

Childhood Cancers

Contact Details

Level One
Starship Hospital
Auckland 1023

Information about this location

View on Google Maps

Get directions

Street Address

Level One
Starship Hospital
Auckland 1023

Postal Address

Department of Paediatric Radiology
Starship Children's Health
Private Bag 92 024
Auckland Mail Centre
Auckland 1142
New Zealand

This page was last updated at 1:05PM on January 20, 2022. This information is reviewed and edited by Starship Paediatric Radiology.