Orthopedic Surgery

Your Child's Examination and Diagnostic Tests

On the day of your child’s first orthopedic visit at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, your family will check-in with the registration desk. When your child’s name is called, you and your child will be sent for an X-ray or escorted to an examination room.

During your child's exam

During check-in, our clinical team will obtain your child's vital signs such as temperature, blood pressure, weight and height.

In a private exam room, our clinical team will:

You will have the opportunity during this initial patient visit to discuss your child’s symptoms and ask questions. Please jot down any questions or comments you’d like to share. This will ensure you get as much information as you need now. There will be additional opportunities at future visits to ask follow-up questions. Download and print our Things I Don't Want to Forget card or view our Tools for Families for other useful information.

Scheduling diagnostic and testing services

Your child's initial visit may result in additional testing to establish or confirm your child's diagnosis. For this reason, we ask you to bring your calendar so we can schedule further testing for your child if needed.

For your convenience, we offer a full spectrum of diagnostic testing and services at our Main Campus and many of our CHOP Care Network locations. Our dedicated, multidisciplinary team has access to the expertise and full resources of CHOP in every pediatric subspecialty to ensure your child has a coordinated plan of care. Learn more about our service locations.

Please check with your insurance plan to make sure your child is permitted to have testing performed here. In some cases, a referral from your insurance company and/or a consultation with a Children's Hospital physician may be necessary.

Diagnostic tests

Your child’s physician will use imaging and diagnostic tests to determine or confirm your child’s orthopedic condition. Early detection of musculoskeletal conditions can affect what treatment options are available and long-term outcomes.

Depending on your child’s symptoms, history and other clinical factors, our physicians may recommend your child undergo one or more of the following tests.


Angiography, also known as an arteriogram, uses a systems of guide wires and catheters to access your child's blood vessels. A contrast agent is added to your child's blood to make the blood vessels and organs visible on X-ray images. This procedure is more invasive than traditional X-rays, but can be helpful in determining disease location or spread.

Bone scan

A bone scan, sometimes called a DEXA scan, determines the health and strength of your child's bones. CHOP's analysis of these scans is unique in that our clinicians compare your child's scan to normative data we have compiled from other children, not the standard adult values.

Blood tests

Blood tests can help determine drug usage and effectiveness, biochemical diseases and organ function.

CT scan

Computed tomography (CT) scans use a combination of X-rays and computer technology to produce cross-sectional images (“slices”) of your child's body.

EOS imaging

EOS imaging is a newly FDA-approved imaging technology that creates 3-dimensional models from two planar images. Unlike a CT scan, EOS images are taken while your child is in an upright or standing position, enabling improved diagnosis due to weight-bearing positioning.


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within your child's body. An MRI does not expose your child to radiation.

PET scan

In a positron emission tomography (PET) scan, a small amount of radioactive sugar is injected into your child's vein and a scanner makes detailed, computerized pictures of areas in the body where disease may occur. PET scans are particularly useful tools when doctors suspect your child has a tumor.

Pulmonary function tests

Pulmonary function tests measure how well your child's lungs take in and release air and how well they move gases, such as oxygen, from the atmosphere into the body’s circulation. These tests include spirometry, whole body plethysmography, single and multiple breath nitrogen washout, carbon monoxide diffusion capacity, respiratory muscle strength and lung compliance. They are particularly helpful for children with scoliosis, thoracic insufficiency syndrome or other conditions that affect lung growth.


ScoliScore is a molecular test which uses a DNA sample from your child's saliva to determine the risk of his or her spinal curve worsening.


Ultrasound uses ultrasonic waves to image your child's internal body structures and muscles. An ultrasound does not expose your child to radiation.


X-rays produce images of bones and are a primary diagnostic tool for most bone and joint injuries and anomalies.

Additional tests

If your child has a complex medical condition or associated health issues, the orthopedic physician may recommend consultations or further testing with CHOP experts from cardiology, oncology, pulmonology, nephrology or other specialties.

What’s next?

After your child's initial visit, you will receive a visit summary form detailing the examination, recommended next steps (such as testing) and instructions for your child's care.

A copy of the summary report will be sent to your child’s physician to ensure your child's care plan is well coordinated and communicated.

Contact us

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call us at 215-590-1527 or contact us online.

Reviewed by: Division of Orthopedic Surgery
Date: November 2013

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