Computed tomography scan (CT Scan)

Your child’s doctor wants your child to have computed tomography, commonly called a CT scan. The CT scan can help your doctor see if there is a muscle or bone problem, birth defect, tumor, infection, inflammation, blood clot, internal injuries or bleeding. CT scans use a big, donut-shaped camera to take X-ray pictures of the inside of the body from all sides. A special computer then puts these pictures together to form detailed, three-dimensional views of the area of the body being examined.

What to expect during the test or treatment

  • A technologist who is trained to work with children will take your child to a special room, where he or she will be asked to change into a hospital gown. If your child is wearing anything with metal in it, such as glasses, jewelry or a belt, he or she will need to take it off for the test. You can keep these items safe for your child until the test is over.
  • The technologist will help your child lie down on a table and will make sure he or she is as comfortable as possible. The table and other equipment in the room are designed just for children.
  • The doctor may want your child to take some medicine to make him or her feel very sleepy. This will make it easier for your child to lie very still during the test. It is important to lie very still because movement can make the pictures look blurry. If the pictures are blurry, they will have to be taken again.
  • Your child may be given a special liquid, called a contrast dye, which will make the pictures turn out very clear.
  • Sometimes, the contrast dye is given as a drink or through a small, soft tube, called an IV, or sometimes both.
  • If the contrast dye will be given through a vein, a nurse will gently put a small needle into a vein in your child’s arm. The needle is connected to an IV. The contrast dye will enter the vein through the IV tube. When your child is given the contrast dye, he or she may feel warm or a little sick to the stomach as it enters the body. This feeling will not last very long.
  • The table is attached to a large, donut-shaped camera, and the table will move inside this camera so the pictures can be taken.
  • The technologist will take the pictures from another room but will be able to talk to you and your child through an intercom system.
  • The test itself only lasts about 15 minutes, but your child will need to stay a little longer while the technologist makes sure the pictures are clear.
  • If your child has an IV, it will be taken out once the pictures have been taken.
  • Once your child is fully awake, you and your child will be free to leave.

What to expect after the test or treatment

  • Your child may take part in all normal activities as soon as the test is over.
  • Drinking lots of fluids without caffeine will help the contrast liquid leave the body faster.
  • A radiologist will look at the pictures and send the results to your child’s doctor. The radiologist is a doctor who is specially trained in studying pictures like the ones your child had taken.
  • Your child’s doctor will discuss the results of the test with you and your child.

Locations where tests are performed

Kosair Children's Hospital
213 E. Chestnut St.
Louisville, KY 40202
(502) 629-6000
Hours of operation: 24 hours
Kosair Children's Hospital Area Map

Kosair Children's Medical Center - Brownsboro
4910 Chamberlain Lane
Louisville, KY 40241
(502) 446-5000
Hours of operation: 24 hours; with sedation appointments only Monday-Thursday
Kosair Children's Medical Center - Brownsboro Area Map

Norton Women's and Kosair Children's Hospital
4001 Dutchmans Lane
Louisville, KY 40207
(502) 893-1000
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