Tests to find out how well organs are working

Tests to find out how well organs are working

An explanation of some of the tests carried out in childhood cancer to find out how well organs are working. These include: audiogram, echocardiogram, electrocardiogram, glomerular filtration rate, pulmonary function test and creatinine clearance.

The following are some of the tests carried out in childhood cancer to find out how well organs are working. 

Audiogram

An audiogram measures hearing. Very young children may need to have their hearing tested while asleep. An audiogram does not hurt.

Echocardiogram (ECHO)

An ECHO is a test to measure the strength and function of the heart. A clear jelly is placed on the child's chest and a small round handle is moved across the skin making a picture of the heart appear on a screen. The test does not hurt.

Electrocardiogram (ECG)

An ECG measures the rhythm of heart beats. Small pads are put on the skin and attached to a monitor by leads. Sometimes heart rhythms need to be recorded for several hours or a whole day. An ECG does not hurt.

Glomerular filtration rate (GFR)

This tests how well the kidneys are working. Some dye is put into a vein, then blood samples are taken at intervals over a period of hours, to assess how quickly the dye is being excreted from the body. The insertion of the dye may cause some discomfort. Your nurse will assist with helping your child to cope. There are suggestions in successful support during treatments.

Pulmonary (lung) function test

This test, to measure how well the lungs are working, requires the child to blow into a plastic mouthpiece connected to a machine. The machine measures the amount of air breathed in and the force of the air breathed out.

Creatinine clearance

Creatinine is a protein that is removed from the blood by the kidneys. Measuring the speed that this happens shows how well the kidneys are working. It is done on a blood sample and also on a sample of urine that has been collected for 24 hours. There are other blood chemistry tests which also look at how well the kidneys are functioning by measuring electrolyte and urea levels.

All the information in the Childhood cancer section of this website has been written by health professionals who work in the field of paediatric oncology. They have been reviewed by the members of the National Child Cancer Network (NZ). Medical information is authorised by the National Child Cancer Network Clinical Leader.

This page last reviewed 02 April 2013.
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