Testing and Diagnostics
At Cook Children's we've made a promise to improve the health of every child in our region through the prevention and treatment of illness, disease and injury. To keep that commitment, our NICU provides the most advanced technology and treatments available.
Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)
ECMO is a method of providing life support using a heart-lung pump when a child's heart or lungs aren't functioning properly or need time to heal. With ECMO, oxygen-poor blood is drawn into a machine that removes excess carbon dioxide, adds oxygen and then returns the oxygen-rich blood to the baby's body. Cook Children's is the only hospital in Tarrant County that provides ECMO for pediatric patients. The ECMO program at Cook Children's Medical Center received its second Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO) Center of Excellence Award in the Summer of 2020.
Echocardiography and Fetal echocardiography
Echocardiography is a powerful imaging technology that allows our heart specialists to see the entire heart, in great detail, including three-dimensional (3-D) images for in-depth evaluation. Because the workings of the heart are very intricate – especially in newborns and premature babies – sometimes a transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) is performed to get a more complete and precise "picture." With these can learn what is and isn't functioning and determine what needs repair with speed and accuracy.
Fetal echocardiography is a test that is done while the baby is still in the womb. It is usually done during the second trimester of pregnancy, at about 18-24 weeks. The procedure is similar to that of a pregnancy ultrasound.
This test is done to detect a heart problem before the baby is born. It can provide a more detailed image of the baby's heart than a regular pregnancy ultrasound. The test can show:
- Blood flow through the heart
- Heart rhythm
- Structures of the baby's heart
There are a variety of reasons your doctor may refer you for a fetal echocardiograph, some of the most common are:
- A sibling or other family member had a heart defect or heart disease
- There is a family history of congenital heart defects
- A routine pregnancy ultrasound detected an abnormal heart rhythm or possible heart problem in the unborn baby
- The mother has type 1 diabetes, lupus or phenylketonuria
- The mother has rubella during pregnancy
- The mother used street drugs or alcohol during pregnancy
- The mother has used certain medications that may present a risk factor
- An amniocentesis revealed a chromosome disorder
MRI and Fetal MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
An MRI is a noninvasive procedure that allows the medical team to see what's going on inside your child's body without the use of X-rays. The images provided can help determine what, if any, treatment is required. And, if surgery should be required to treat your child's specific condition, an MRI can help to more accurately pinpoint the area of surgery. MRI scans show detailed pictures of the brain, spinal cord, muscles, tendons, bone marrow and blood vessels, tissue and more.
A fetal MRI is used to evaluate abnormalities in your baby's brain, chest, spinal cord, abdomen, gastrointestinal tract and urinary system. Long before your baby is due, we can diagnose a health issue and help you develop a treatment plan so that your newborn can receive any needed pediatric care as early as possible. If a problem is detected, you can make arrangements for your baby to be transported to Cook Children's immediately after birth to begin any necessary treatments.
Heart rate observation (HeRO) technology
Cook Children's NICU continues to raise the bar for quality patient care. As the first medical center in Texas to begin using "HeRO," a state-of-the-art heart rate observation technology that works with a baby's heart monitor, we led the way in improving care for NICU babies, here at home and across the state. Because it works with existing monitors, there are no extra cords or devices to attach to a baby's tiny body. All babies' heart rates have natural fluctuations, but when a baby is beginning to get sick, the heart rate may level out. HeRO continually measures the heart rate variability and assigns it a rating. When an abnormal rating is detected, HeRO gives doctors and nurses advance warning that the baby is at risk for infection. With this information, they can diagnosis and treat the illness sooner, preventing longer than necessary hospital stays.
High-frequency ventilation is a more gentle form of mechanical ventilation (breathing assistance) that sends small, rapid puffs of air into your baby's lungs. Depending on the needs of your baby, the most appropriate form of ventilation will be used for their lung disease.
Hypothermia (body cooling)/Inhaled nitric oxide treatment (iNO)
Inhaled nitric oxide is used to treat respiratory failure and high blood pressure in the lungs (pulmonary hypertension). Nitric oxide is given directly through a breathing tube into the windpipe. This helps the blood vessels in the lung open so they can carry oxygenated blood into the body.
18F DOPA/PET-CT for Hyperinsulinism
18F DOPA/ PET-CT imaging is more than a breakthrough research study, it is a treatment that is saving lives and, in many cases, even curing some children with hyperinsulinism. Cook Children's is the only facility in the south and the second in the country to use 18F DOPA--an investigational new drug--in combination with a PET-CT scan to diagnose focal lesions in infants and children with congenital hyperinsulinism. The 18F DOPA/PET-CT scan offers the fastest available testing, allowing your baby to go to surgery right away. Because the PET-CT scan provides a map to guide the surgeon to the focal point, the lesion can be targeted and removed with accuracy so precise, in most cases, your baby can be cured.
CT and PET/CT scans
CT scans are able to show diseases, head injuries and a variety of other medical conditions with much more clarity and detail than general X-rays. And because they're fast and painless, they are a patient-friendly form of X-ray imaging. A PET/CT scan helps doctors see three-dimensional pictures of how the organs and tissues inside the body are functioning. It can also show the difference between normal and abnormal cells and tissue.
We're here to help.
If you are interested in scheduling a tour of our NICU, please call 682-885-4375. You can find information on how to refer a patient or other NICU contact information here.