Pediatric CT Scan

Pediatric computed tomography (CT) is a fast, painless exam that uses special x-ray equipment to create multiple detailed images of your child’s internal organs, bones, soft tissues and blood vessels. For children, it is most often used to help diagnose abdominal pain, evaluate an injury after trauma, diagnose and stage cancer, monitor treatment for cancer, diagnose and monitor infectious or inflammatory disorders, and evaluate the heart and blood vessels.  CT scans may be performed on newborns, infants and older children.

CT imaging is sometimes compared to looking into a loaf of bread by cutting the loaf into thin slices. When the image slices are reassembled by computer software, the result is a very detailed multidimensional view of the body's interior.  All CT scanners at Milford Regional are now 64-slice Philips scanners which produce outstanding quality images.  In addition, we use I-Dose software which reduces the amount of radiation used without compromising the quality of the images.

Consult Your Physician

In general, children who have recently been ill will not be sedated or anesthetized. If this is the case, or if you suspect that your child may be getting sick, you should talk with your physician about rescheduling the CT exam.

You should also inform your physician of any medications your child is taking and if he/she has any allergies, especially to intravenous (IV) or oral contrast materials (also known as dye), iodine, or seafood. The allergy information should also be discussed with the CT technologist or nurse at the time of the CT examination. 

Also inform your doctor of any recent illnesses or other medical conditions your child may have, and if there is a history of heart disease, asthma, diabetes, kidney disease or thyroid problems. Any of these conditions may influence the decision on whether contrast material will be given to your child for the CT examination.

Exam Preparation

Your child should wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing to the exam. He or she may be given a gown to wear during the procedure.

Metal objects including jewelry, eyeglasses, hearing aids, non-permanent retainers and hairpins may affect the CT images and may have to be removed prior to your child's exam. This can be discussed with the CT technologist, the specialist who will be performing the CT scan.

Your child may be asked not to eat or drink anything for several hours beforehand, particularly if a sedative or anesthesia is used.

The Exam

A CT scanner produces numerous x-ray beams and a set of electronic x-ray detectors that rotate around the patient. At the same time, the examination table is moving through the scanner, so that the x-ray beam follows a spiral path. A special computer program processes this series of pictures, or slices of the body, to create two-dimensional cross-sectional images and/or three-dimensional images which are then displayed on a monitor.

For some CT exams, a contrast material is used to enhance visibility in the area of the body being studied. If contrast material is used, depending on the type of exam, it will be swallowed or injected through an intravenous line (IV).

The technologist positions the patient on the CT exam table and the table will move quickly through the scanner to determine the correct starting position for the scans. Then, the table will move slowly through the machine as the actual CT scanning is performed. Depending on the type of CT scan, the machine may make several passes.

Patients may be asked to hold their breath during the scanning, especially if the chest is being scanned.

Most children older than six years are able to hold their breath long enough to complete the scan although they may need coaching and practice. Younger children may not be able to hold their breath long enough to complete the scan. It is better in this circumstance to have young children breathe quietly and regularly during the scan.

If an intravenous contrast material is used, your child will feel a slight pin prick when the IV is inserted, usually into the hand or arm. The child may have a warm, flushed sensation during the injection of the contrast materials and a metallic taste in his/her mouth that lasts for a few minutes. Occasionally, a patient will develop itching and hives, which can be relieved with medication, if necessary. If your child becomes light-headed or experiences difficulty breathing, you should notify the technologist or nurse, as it may indicate a more severe allergic reaction. If your child experiences any kind of reaction to the intravenous contrast, it is important that you and/or your child remember to tell health care providers in the future.

The technologist will leave the room to perform the CT scan. However, the technologist will be able to see, hear and speak with your child at all times. A parent may be allowed in the room but will be required to wear a lead apron to prevent radiation exposure. The radiation dose directly outside of the CT scanner itself is very low. If you suspect you may be pregnant, however, it would be better for someone else to be with your child.

After The Exam

Generally, after a CT exam, your child can return to his/her normal activities. If your child received some form of sedation for the exam, you and your child will stay in the department for a recovery period and will be given instructions on any limitations in activity for the day. A radiologist will analyze the images and send a report to your physician who will discuss the results with you.

Diagnostic Imaging Scheduling Center

To schedule an appointment, call our Diagnostic Imaging Scheduling Center at:
508-422-BOOK (508-422-2665)
Mon. thru Fri. 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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Patients should call to pre-register up to two weeks in advance for any scheduled surgery and out-patient appointment including most diagnostic tests, lab work and pre-operative testing. This eliminates the need to wait for an admissions representative upon arrival. Patients can go directly to their point of service. Admissions representatives are available to take calls from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. 

Please call 508-422-2222.

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