A computed tomography (CT) scan, also known as a Computed Axial Tomography (CAT) scan, is a specialized x-ray procedure offered at Raleigh Radiology.
A CT machine uses multiple xrays to create pictures of the inside of the body. These pictures are cross-sectional images, or slices, of the body that can be viewed sequentially as if flipping through pages of a book. The resulting pictures are far more detailed than traditional x-ray images.
While CT imaging does use radiation, we tailor the dose to the size of the child. We try to use the lowest dose possible to create an image that is of sufficient quality to provide a diagnosis. This is in keeping with the ALARA (As Low As Reasonably Achievable) principle.
If your child is scheduled for a CT of the abdomen or pelvis with contrast, there will be an oral prep. This involves drinking a special contrast agent, or dye, in order to highlight the stomach and intestines on the pictures. In addition, there will be a different type of contrast agent that will be administered intravenously in order to highlight the internal organs and blood vessels. Similar intravenous contrast will be required for other examinations that are ordered “with contrast”. If your child has had an allergic reaction to intravenous contrast, please let your referring physician know as this requires additional preparation. Your child should be dressed in comfortable clothes that can be easily removed; changing into a gown may be necessary. Avoid wearing any jewelry and/or metallic items.
Day of the Exam
Please plan to arrive between 15-30 min prior to your scheduled appointment. Check-in and registration are completed at the front desk.
The CT technologist will provide your child with oral contrast to drink prior to the exam, if necessary. An IV may also be placed in the arm, if the study is ordered “with contrast.” Afterwards, you and your child will be escorted to the CT scan room.
There is a large donut-shaped machine and an exam table located in the room. Depending on the type of exam, most children will lay flat on their back on the exam table. A lead shield will be placed over the area that is not being imaged. Any parent or accompanying guardian is required to wear a lead shield as well, for your own protection.
The exam table will be aligned with the machine. The technologist will exit the room and begin the exam behind the observation window. Instructions are provided over loud speaker; your child must lay very still and hold their breath immediately before the images are captured. Then the table will glide into the donut-shaped machine until the scan is complete. The CT machine makes a buzzing noise while operating, however the process is completely painless.
All images are reviewed and forwarded to the Pediatric Radiologist. Depending on the type of exam, the Pediatric Radiologist will determine if additional images are required.
Upon completion, the Pediatric Radiologist will review your images and send their findings to your referring physician.
Does a CT scan use radiation?
Yes, xrays are used in a CT scan and this is a form of radiation. We understand the need to minimize the dose of radiation in growing children. Therefore, we tailor our exams to the size and age of the patient, using the lowest amount of radiation as possible that is limited only to the area of clinical concern. The benefits of the exam should outweigh the risks involved, and your child’s doctor would have considered other imaging alternatives. If our Pediatric Radiologists feel a different study would be more appropriate, we will contact your doctor directly.
How long does the exam take?
The actual scan takes 5-10 minutes but can be up to 2 hours if oral contrast is administered.
When will the results be available?
The images will be reviewed by a Pediatric Radiologist and a report will be send to your child’s doctor within 24 hours.