Computed Tomography (CT) Scan
What you and your child can expect
When your child is scheduled for a radiology test, both you and your child may have questions about it. We encourage parents to read this information, then talk about the test with their child.
What is a computed tomography (CT) scan?
A computed tomography (CT) scan is a specific kind of X-ray. The CT scanner, the machine used for this procedure, takes cross-sectional images (scans) of body tissues.
How is the test performed?
A staff person will take you and your child into an exam room. Your child may wear his own clothes for the CT scan as long as there are no metal objects (such as zippers or snaps) near the area to be scanned. Your child may need to stop eating and drinking for a specified period of time prior to the test.
If a contrast material is needed for your child's scan, the nurse will place an intravenous (IV) tube. Your child may feel a warm sensation as the contrast liquid is injected.
You and your child will be taken to the CT scanner where your child will lie on the CT bed. You will be given a lead apron to wear if you wish to remain with your child in the room. If you are pregnant, you will be asked to leave the room before the scan begins. The technologist will secure your child with soft wraps and blankets. The room lights will be dimmed during the actual CT scan. If IV contrast is needed, it will be injected while your child is lying very still, possibly during the scan.
It is important that your child hold very still during this test. Children ages 3 and younger or those with special needs usually are given sedation to help hold still for this test. The sedation is given through an IV tube or by mouth, depending on your child.s age and health status. If you have questions about sedation or need help determining if your child will benefit from being sedated, call our radiology department. If your child is sedated for the test, plan for a "wake-up" period afterwards.
After the technologist has completed the images, a radiologist will check the films to make sure they are complete. The radiologist will review the images and send the report to your child's doctor.
Does my child have to do anything different before the test?
Your child should have nothing to eat or drink for 4 hours before his scan. Even if he is not being sedated, there is the possibility of using IV contrast during the scan and his stomach must be empty.
Children under 18 years old must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
For patients scheduled with sedation:
- If your child has been scheduled with sedation, please arrive 30 minutes before your appointment on the day of the test.
- For your child's safety, it is very important to have an empty stomach when sedation is given. If these guidelines are not followed, your child's scan may be canceled.
- If your child has been scheduled with sedation, and is 12 months or younger, please call the Sedation Nurse Line at (612) 813-5864 or (651) 220-6980, for eating and drinking instructions at least one day before the exam.
- If your child has been scheduled with sedation and is older than 12 months, he should have no solid food for 8 hours, no milk/formula for 6 hours, and no breast milk for 4 hours. Your child may have clear liquids up to 3 hours before the test (water, Popsicles, apple juice, Kool-Aid, Jell-O, pulp-free juice, carbonated drinks, or clear tea). Your child must not eat or drink anything 3 hours prior to the test.
If you have any questions about sedation, call the Sedation Nurse Line at (612) 813-5864 or (651) 220-6980.
What can my child expect after the test?
After the scan, the IV contrast liquid is eliminated by the kidneys and passes unnoticed in your child's urine. Encourage your child to drink an extra glass of water after the test.
If your child was sedated, refer to the "Sedation for a Procedure" handout given by your nurse.
General radiology requirements
- Pregnant mothers: Women who are pregnant can't be in the exam room. They must have a family member or friend over the age of 18 accompany their child into the examination room during the exam (with the exception of the ultrasound and nuclear medicine rooms).
- Family or friends under the age of 18 years old: If you are not the patient and under the age of 18 years old you will not be allowed to remain in the radiology exam room during the exam.
- Siblings: Siblings are not allowed in the radiology room while the exam is being performed (with the exception of the ultrasound rooms). Please make arrangements to have an adult accompany them in the waiting room.
- Attire: Children wearing clothing with snaps or buttons will need to change into hospital attire. Any item such as jewelry, undergarments with metal, or EKG patches in affected area will be removed prior to the exam.