CTs are ordered for many reasons. Typical conditions or symptoms that the test can help evaluate include:
How does it work?
- Complications from infections, such as pneumonia
- Bony structures of the spine
- Traumatic bony injuries such as a fractured ankle
- Vascular trauma
- Kidney stones
- Brain injuries and fractures
- Soft tissue organ trauma
- Metastatic disease
CT scans use a combination of X-rays (radiation) and computer technology. Cross-sectional imaging takes many pictures very quickly. Exactly how each CT is performed is tailored to your child's individual weight and age, and which body part is being imaged. Rest assured all our equipment and protocols provide the least amount of radiation necessary. Learn more about how we are committed to reducing radiation doses in children »How long does it take?
Some CT scans are as short as five seconds and some are longer, dependent on the body part being imaged. Since images can be reviewed in nearly real time, the radiologist checks images before your child is taken off of the bed. During this time, it is important your child stay still in case more scans are needed.How can we prepare? Learn more about how to prepare for your child's medical imaging procedure.
What can we expect?
Your child may need to be sedated, which may be done on an outpatient basis. You must be present to give your consent, and you can stay in the room until your child is sleeping. Learn more about sedation and how to prepare for your child's medical imaging procedure
When your child has a CT, he or she is brought to the room and placed on the imaging table. Most often children lay on their backs, but scans can be done in any position.
A child may go in the machine head first or feet first, depending on the body part being imaged. Whenever possible, we have your child go in feet first so their head and hands are outside where you can hold them. And for safety's sake, we use “seatbelts” to keep your child secure.
With younger children, technologist may do a “practice run.” Usually two sets of pictures are taken. Also depending on the CT type, your child may have to hold his or her breath. The technologist first explains this so the mechanized voice giving breathing directions does not startle your child.
If the CT procedure requires contrast, it is given orally or intraveneously.
What happens after the CT scan?
- An IV is started by the nursing staff or the vascular access team. First, to numb the skin, we use a product that infuses a numbing agent into the skin without a needle.
- If your child needs to drink the oral contrast, you may bring with you any non-milk or non-carbonated drink like juice or lemonade to be used.
After the test, your child may return to regular daily activities and meals. A nurse will give you any special instructions, and a phone number to call with questions. Results are available to your child's referring doctor within 24 hours to 48 hours. Also:
- If your child is sedated, a nurse monitors your child until awake. While this amount of time varies, it's typical to sleep up to two hours after medicine is given.
- If your child has IV contrast injected, you can offer extra fluids to help flush the contrast, which is typically gone within 24 hours.
Email Barbara Karl, Manager, CT, IR and Cardiac Catheterization or call 312.227.3397 with any questions or concerns.