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CT Scans for Children

A computed tomography (CT or CAT) scan uses X-rays to quickly create cross-sectional pictures ("slices") of the body. This scan may be used as a surgical guide, to identify masses and tumors, or to study blood vessels. State-of-the-art software at Randall Children's Hospital allows for enhanced images, while exposing our young patients to less radiation - at least a 25 percent reduction, and sometimes 50 percent lower.

What can I expect?

We'll do everything we can to make your child comfortable during the scan. He or she will be asked to lie on their stomach, back, or side on a narrow table that slides into the center of the CT scanner. Then the machine's X-ray beam rotates around the table.

Certain CT scans require a special dye, called contrast material, to highlight specific areas and create a clearer image. If contrast is required, your child may receive it through a hand or forearm vein or be asked drink it.


How will it feel?

Injected contrast material, may cause a slight burning sensation, a metallic taste in the mouth, and a warm flushing of the body. Your child should be told that these sensations are normal and will go away in a few seconds. During the scan it's important that your child lies as still as possible to make sure we get the sharpest images. He or she may be asked to hold their breath very briefly. Complete scans usually take only a few minutes.

How should I prepare my child?

  • If contrast material will be used, it's very important to tell the doctor if your child has iodine or seafood allergies, or any kidney problems.
  • Your child may be asked not to eat or drink anything for 4-6 hours before the test.
  • Your child should take all usual medications unless the doctor says not to. Talk to your doctor if your child takes any blood thinners (Coumadin/Warfarin, Plavix, Pradaxa, Aggrenox, etc.).
  • Your child will be asked to remove jewelry and wear a hospital gown during the scan.