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Preparing Your Child for a CT scan

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On this page, you will find information to share with your child about getting a CT scan, written in terms Child Life Specialists believe children can easily understand.

What is a CT scan?

  • CT stands for Computed Tomography
  • These scans take pictures of different parts of the body

Why it's important to have a CT scan:

  • "The doctors want to take some pictures of (specific body part) to help see what might be making you feel bad, hurt, etc."

Your job during the CT scan:

  • It is very important to hold still so that the pictures come out clear.

What happens when having a CT scan?

  • You will go to CT scan in a wheelchair or on a bed with wheels.
  • When you get to the room where your pictures will be taken, the nurse will help move you to the bed that slides in and out of the CT camera.
  • The camera looks like a big doughnut with a hole in the middle.  The bed will slide into the hole when it is time for your pictures.
  • The bed sometimes has a cloth seatbelt, just like in a car, to keep you safe.
  • Having your pictures taken will not hurt and nothing will touch you.
  • A CT scan takes about 5-15 minutes.  You may hear a soft humming sound when the camera is working.
  • You may need to drink some special medicine called contrast.  This medicine helps your doctor see the pictures of your body better that were checked with the camera.  
  • The special medicine or contrast may also be given through your IV.
  • A parent may also be present during the CT scan, but will need to wear a lead apron.
  • The radiology technologist taking the pictures will be able to see you and talk to you during the procedure.

Things that can help when having a CT scan:

  • Listening to music
  • Using your imagination:  think about being in a castle or in outer space
  • Discussing what will be helpful to you and your child
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