Miller Children's EOS machine

One of the Orthopedic Center patients, Soraya, who is 15 and has used the EOS machine.

MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach recently acquired an advanced technological tool. The EOS Imaging System is a revolutionary piece of equipment that gives doctors unprecedented insight into a patient’s anatomy and condition.

EOS emits two perpendicular X-ray beams that travel vertically, scanning the patient from head to toe and generating bi-planar images. Using ALARA (as low as reasonably achievable) levels of radiation exposure, the machine creates 2D and 3D skeletal models with only 20 seconds of radiation.

“Dr. Cunningham brought this device to our attention,” said Dr. Graham Tse, Miller’s chief medical officer. “Upon research, we found it to be ground-breaking technology that would be beneficial to patients, families, and surgeons. We plan to put it in our new Children’s Village, but we acquired it early so that we could start using it immediately.”

Unlike traditional X-ray machines and CT scanners, the EOS device examines patients in a standing position. According to Dr. Torin Cunningham, orthopedic surgeon and medical director of the Orthopedic Center at Miller, both gravity and the patient’s body weight are important factors in properly assessing the alignment of the spine and legs. For example, Cunningham said that the size of a scoliotic curve can be much greater when the patient is standing.

EOS data allows for precise, 3D surgical planning. The machine is especially useful for patients with spinal alignment conditions like scoliosis. It is also used in limb alignment for the management of leg deformities.

Young patients need repeated X-rays as their bodies grow and change, so a machine with decreased radiation exposure offers a significant health benefit. Compared to current X-ray techniques, the EOS provides image clarity with 60-70 percent less radiation exposure.

“Many patients need monitoring X-rays, especially if they are using a brace, every 5-6 months,” Cunningham said. “For some patients, this monitoring may be as short as 2 years, while other children with congenital scoliosis may require X-rays from infancy until they are done growing. For these children, EOS is even more beneficial due to the decreased radiation exposure over their lifetime.”

Dr. Tse explained that the efficiency of a 20-second scan is also helpful; many youngsters have a hard time holding still for the duration of time required by X-ray and CT devices. In addition, Tse noted that the standing area in the EOS machine is much less intimidating than the confined tube of the CT scanner, which induces feelings of claustrophobia in some patients.

Although Tse and Cunningham both emphasized the importance of this technology for children, the device also can be used on adult patients. With its 3D capability, EOS is a valuable tool in planning surgeries for those in need of hip or knee replacement.

“This game-changing therapy is a benefit to patients and surgeons,” Tse said. “It’s a total win-win.”

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