A CT abdominal scan is a type of imaging test. It uses a series of X-rays and a computer to create images of the inside of the body. A CT scan shows more detail than a regular X-ray.
A CT scan of the belly (abdomen) can diagnose abdominal problems in babies and children. It is a noninvasive medical test. This means it is not done with an incision or tool that goes inside your child's body.
Your child may need an abdominal CT scan so the healthcare provider can:
The scan can help diagnose problems such as:
Your child’s healthcare provider may have other reasons to advise this test.
A CT scan uses radiation. Repeated exposure to radiation raises a person’s risk for cancer in the future. The CT scan should be done with the lowest possible radiation dose needed for the images to diagnose your child's problem. Children are more sensitive to radiation than adults. For this reason, a CT scan should only be done if it is vital for making a diagnosis. In some cases, an MRI or ultrasound may be used in place of a CT scan. These tests don’t use radiation.
The benefits of a CT scan often outweigh this risk. Talk with your child’s healthcare provider about the amount of radiation and the best options for your child.
Other risks include:
There may be other risks. This depends on your child’s health. Talk about any concerns you have with the healthcare provider before the scan.
You can help your child by preparing him or her in advance. Many hospitals have people trained in helping children cope with their medical care or hospital experience. These people are often called child life specialists. Check with your child’s healthcare provider to see if child life programs or other similar services are available for your child.
There are also things you can do to help your child get ready for a test. How best to do this depends on your child’s needs. Start with the tips below:
Tell the healthcare provider:
Also make sure to:
The CT scanner is a large machine in the shape of a circle. It has a narrow table that moves through the hole while X-rays are taken.
Your child may have a CT scan at a hospital or an outpatient facility. The test takes about 30 to 60 minutes. Some may take longer. You may be able to stay with your child in the CT room. Or you may be asked to wait in another area during the procedure. If you stay, you will need to wear a lead apron. If you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant, talk with your healthcare provider first.
During the procedure:
Once the procedure is finished, the table will slide out of the scanner. If your child received medicine to relax or sleep, he or she will be watched until the medicine wears off and he or she is awake again. If an IV was inserted, it will be taken out after the procedure is over and your child is awake.
If no sedation was used, your child can go back to normal activities and diet right away, unless the healthcare provider says otherwise. Contrast dye should pass through your child’s body in about 24 hours. Your child may need to drink more water during this time.
If your child had sedation, he or she may feel sleepy for a while. This should go away in a few hours or a day.
Your child’s healthcare provider will talk with you about the results of the CT scan, and let you know if other tests are needed.
Before you agree to the test or the procedure for your child make sure you know: