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Procedures and Tests (A-Z)

During your child and family’s time in hospital or other healthcare settings, you will come across different medical procedures, scans and tests. Here is a list of common procedures in alphabetical order.

Allergy Testing - Skin Prick Test / Blood Test

This helps the doctor to know what the child is allergic to, so that the right advice can be given. There are different types of skin tests. The most common type of skin test to identify allergies is a skin prick test. In a skin prick test, a small drop of a protein extract (allergen) is placed on the skin (usually the forearm) and a small prick is made in the skin through the drop. The size of the swelling (wheal) is measured after 10-15 minutes.

Barium Swallow / VFSS (Videofluroscopic Swallow Study)

A barium swallow / VFSS is a procedure to check how well a child or baby swallows and if their airway is safe. It also helps see if food moves properly from the mouth to the stomach. The test is done using a special kind of x-ray video that shows what it looks like inside the child’s body when they swallow. This test might be recommended if some of the below symptoms effect the child and haven’t gotten better with help from a Speech Pathologist:

  • Frequent choking
  • Coughing or gagging during meals/drinking
  • Trouble managing saliva
  • Gurgly/wet breathing during or after meals
  • Chronic respiratory problems including chest infections/pneumonia
  • Difficulty swallowing

Blood Test (Venepuncture)

A blood test (venepuncture) is a way of taking blood for a blood test. The doctor will explain why this test is needed. Many different tests can only be done this way.

CT (Computerised Tomography) Scan

A CT scan is taken using a large doughnut shaped x-ray machine. It is used to see internal parts of the body, such as bones, in great detail. The images are shown as thin slices of the body on a computer screen (like the slices of a loaf of bread).


A DEXA scan is a type of x-ray that measures bone mineral density (BMD). A DEXA scan shows information about the child’s bone strength and the risk of fractures or broken bones. The child may be referred for a DEXA scan if they have:

  • A medical reason that could weaken their bones
  • Had a recent fracture after a minor injury
  • Had an x-ray that showed bone loss (osteopenia)

ECG (Electrocardiogram)

An ECG machine listens to the child's heart and draws a pattern of how it beats, just like notes on a sheet of music. This is a quick procedure which involves putting small stickers over the child's chest and attaching a lead to each sticker. These leads attach to a computer which shows a trace of the heartbeat. The cardiologist (heart doctor) will look at this pattern to understand if the different parts of the child’s heart are pumping in the right order.

EEG (Electroencephalogram)

An EEG is a safe and pain-free test that records the electrical activity of the brain. The information is recorded on a computer and interpreted by a neurologist (a doctor specialising in disorders of the brain). A doctor may request an EEG to find out what's going on in the brain if the child has abnormal movements, seizures or sleep problems. An EEG is not harmful. There are no x-rays or injections and there is no risk of electric shock. The electrodes just record brain activity.

Hearing Test

Audiology services test for a range of hearing problems. A hearing test will check the volume and pitch of sounds heard by the child. An audiogram, or graph, of these results can help show the severity and causes of hearing problems.

MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)

This is a procedure which uses a powerful magnet and radio waves to make detailed images of any part of the body. The scan usually takes between 20 and 120 minutes depending on which area is being looked at. Soft tissue structures are better seen on MRI.

Sleep Study (Polysomnography)

A sleep study is a test to watch how the child sleeps and breathes during one whole night. Before they go to sleep, some sensors and electrodes will be attached to their head and body. It doesn't hurt and is safe. These sensors help the doctors see what's happening while the child is sleeping. A sleep study is used to investigate:

  • Snoring and obstructive sleep apnoea
  • Differences in breathing
  • Too much daytime sleepiness
  • Unexplained night time waking
  • Helpfulness of ventilatory support


Ultrasounds use high frequency sound waves to look inside the child’s body. The pictures can be seen on a TV screen next to the bed and this set of pictures is what the doctor will look at. A bit like a set of pictures taken from a video.


An "x-ray" is a special picture of the inside of the child's body. It helps the doctor see what's hard, like bones, and what's soft, like muscles. The child will lie on a bed, and the x-rays will be taken from a machine. The x-rays pass through the body and make a picture on a plate behind or below the bed.