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CT Scan

When Your Child's Having a CT Scan

​​​What is a CT s​can?

A CT scan is a type of x-ray that takes pictures from different angles to make a cross-section or “slice” of the area that was scanned.

Before the S​​can

You’ll be asked if your child has any health issues or problems such as:

  • asthma
  • allergies
  • kidney disease
  • had a reaction to x-ray dye
  • problems with medicine that relaxes them
  • breathing problems

How is the scan done?

Your child will be taken into the CT room and will be asked to lie on a table. The table will move into the CT scanner, where the pictures will be taken.

How long does it take?

The test may take between 5 minutes and 1 hour.

How does my child get ready?

For a CT scan of the abdomen or pelvis, your child will drink a contrast dye that’s mixed in juice, ginger ale, or water. Your child will be given this drink at least 1 hour before the scan.

Will my child have an injection?

A contrast dye is sometimes used for the CT scan. The nurse or technologist will place a small catheter into a vein (IV) and inject the dye. The catheter will be left in place until the test is done.

What if my child can’t lie still?

Children who can’t lie still for the CT scan may be given sedation to make them sleepy.

Your child will be watched closely during the test and until he or she is ready to go home.

What if my child needs sedation?

Your child will be assessed to see if he or she needs sedation or a general anesthetic for the test. A brief history and physical assessment will be done.

A nurse will contact you with instructions if your child is having sedation or a general anesthetic.

Children given sedation or a general anesthetic may have to stay for a few hours afterwards, while the sedation or anesthetic wears off.

Does the sedation have side effects?

Most children don’t have any side effects. Some side effects can include:

  • allergic reaction
  • becoming restless
  • slower breathing from being too relaxed

Does the dye have side effects?

Some side effects can include:

  • feeling warm or a burning feeling
  • change in how things taste (a metal taste in mouth)
  • nausea and/or vomiting
  • feel like he or she has to pee (urinate)

There is also a small chance that your child may have an allergic reaction such as hives or swelling.

What happens after the scan?

If your child wasn’t given sedation or a general anesthetic, he or she can carry on with their day as usual. If your child was given sedation, the nurse will give you written instructions before you leave.

Your family doctor will get the results of the scan in about 1 week. Please call your doctor’s office for the results.

Current as of: March 13, 2018

Author: Diagnostic Imaging, Alberta Health Services