A new one-of-a-kind room at the IWK Health Centre is aiming to take the stress out of diagnostic imaging.

If you follow the stepping stones into the jungle, you'll find one of the newest machines at the IWK Health Centre.

“It's a combination of a nuclear medicine camera, sometimes called a SPECT camera and a more standard CT camera that people might be more familiar with,” says Dr. Steven Burrell, a nuclear medicine physician.

The SPECT-CT digital imaging machine is only the third of its kind in a Canadian pediatric centre. Dr. Burrell says the two-in-one nature of the scanner is what makes it unique.

“Bringing these two types of cameras together in one camera and obtaining simultaneous images of function from the nuclear medicine camera, and anatomy from the CT camera allows us to have exquisite diagnostic capabilities,” says Burrell.

The room that houses the technology is also unique – it is the first of its kind in Canada.

“We feel very proud to be the first installation of the GE Adventure Series in Canada, which is designed solely to improve the patient experience,” says Sandra MacDonald, supervisor of nuclear medicine.

MacDonald says there are many challenges when imaging children – just getting them into the room can be one of the biggest.

“When you come into a regular imaging room, the biggest thing you can see in the room may be the scanner. It's hard to hide how large it is,” says MacDonald.

The scanner at the IWK has been transformed into a canoe, making it less noticeable, and more inviting to young patients.

“There's a waterfall at the end of the tunnel and most of them want to actually get to that side so they want to go into the scanner,” says MacDonald.

This type of imaging can be a long, daunting process. The colourful room was designed through a child's eyes to help make the experience more relaxing.

“They can explore the animals on the wall, the green leaves, the fish in the water that jump over them, everything has been designed for children and just having them interested in that decreases everyone's stress level,” says MacDonald.

Dr. Burrell says studies in other pediatric centres have shown lower sedation rates for children undergoing scans in these types of rooms.

“Ultimately, if they're lying still and happy and cooperative, the images that we obtain are actually better so we can actually end up with a better, more diagnostic study,” says Dr. Burrell.