In order to determine the condition of a patient, a CT scanner is used, also known as a computerized tomography machine. The device can be used to confirm or exclude a wide variety of medical conditions in adults as well as children.

While this is a painless test, there may be a little discomfort involved from time to time. Therefore, it is important to prepare the child in advance, so that he is aware of what to expect and does not have to behave in a certain way.

How does a CT scan work?

The CT device is capable of producing high-resolution images of the interior of the body. As with any standard X-ray, the device emits X-rays, but not with the intention of producing a one-dimensional and limited photograph.

In conjunction with a computer, it is possible to simulate internal organs, including not only bones but also organs and soft tissues. By giving a suitable instruction to the computer, it is possible to produce 'Slices' of the target area. In this manner, you are able to obtain a great deal of information in the form of cross-sectional and detailed images.

Dr Baseem Namouz - Children's CT & MRI scans

What is the purpose of a CT scan in children?

In the test, you can obtain a detailed picture of, for example, bone density in the spine, head, or neck of the patient. Furthermore, the test can also be used to check the condition of the lungs, chest, or pelvis. It is also possible to produce images of the blood vessels in the body, of the joints, of the hands, or of the feet. If necessary, you may focus on the head cavity or narrowed areas such as the eyes or ears.

Ensure that the child is prepared for the test

It is advisable to prepare the child in advance to avoid apprehension and to ensure that the CT scan will take place without any interference on his part (so that the results obtained will be satisfactory and clear). To facilitate the production of photographs and imaging, it is helpful to inform the child about the structure of the device in which he should lie.

The chamber resembles an enlarged washing machine with a front entrance. It can be explained to a small child that it is a spaceship-like device or a magical chamber from legend. As well, it is important to note that this is a fairly short test, but the child should remain motionless during it. Before performing the imaging procedure, the technician should be informed if the child is afraid of closed places or has a hyperactivity disorder.

The child will be lying down on a bed inside the CT machine. X-rays will be taken on the same bed. The child may be given a short infusion of dye in order to achieve the best imaging results. In spite of the fact that the substance is not harmful, it may cause the body to feel warm for a short period of time. There are some children who experience a bad taste in their mouth afterward, which is a natural condition that also passes quickly.

Does the CT scan is risk?

Many parents are concerned about the safety of CT scans in children. In spite of the fact that the test itself is not a source of immediate danger, it should be considered that multiple x-rays may pose a health risk. It is not expected that the radiation dose of a single test would cause any problems, but it is not recommended when there are other alternatives available.

Whenever a doctor recommends a CT scan, it is appropriate to verify whether there is no other alternative test which can provide a proper indication without exposing the patient to radiation. MRI devices, for example, may provide good imaging without radiation, but they may not be appropriate for every medical issue. A child who is afraid of the test or the dye injection, or who is unable to lie still during the test (which can last a few minutes), may undergo the test under anesthesia or sedation. It is important that you follow the instructions in this case, such as fasting for several hours before the test.