Computed Tomography

Computed Tomography, or CT scans, are a quick and painless exam that use x-ray equipment and powerful computers to take detailed images of the body. SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital has the most advanced CT scanners that offer the safest imaging in the region for children. Because CT technology uses ionizing radiation, our technicians carefully calibrate the CT scan equipment and software to ensure the lowest dose of radiation possible.

A CT scan can be used to diagnose and evaluate many conditions, including fractures, appendicitis, chronic sinus symptoms and hearing loss. In certain cases, your child’s doctor may recommend that your child receive a special dye called a contrast material before the CT scan. This helps improve the images of the body and is administered through an IV in the arm.

If your child requires a CT scan, our radiologists at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital will work with you to ensure your child is happy and comfortable during their exam. In our interactive CT suites, your child can watch their favorite movie on a flat-panel screen and choose their favorite color theme for the room.

How Should I Prepare My Child for the CT Scan?

A Child Life Specialist is available to assist you and your child understand this procedure and provide support every step of the way.

Many children have difficulty lying still and may need sedation for their CT scan. Our team works with families during the scheduling process to determine if a child needs sedation. Our nurses and physicians are trained in sedation and will guide you through the process. If your child does not require sedation, the main preparation is to avoid eating a heavy meal 4 hours before the scan. If your child has a known allergy to radiographic contrast, we will advise you on any additional preparations needed.

Comfortable clothes that are easily removed and don’t have metal zippers or snaps is best for your child to wear for the scan.  You can leave jewelry at home.

What Can I Expect Before, During, and After the Exam?

Before the CT Scan

Before the scan starts, your child will lay down on a narrow, motorized table that slides through the opening of the scanner. Depending on the part of the body being examined, a special cradle or pillows may be used to help your child stay in position.

During the CT Scan

As the table moves your child into the scanner, detectors and an X-ray tube rotate around your child. With each rotation, the scanner takes several images of thin slices of the body. The machine will make buzzing, clicking and whirring noises, all at a safe level.

A trained technologist will be in a separate room and can see, hear and communicate with your child via an intercom. Any type of movement during a CT scan will make the images look fuzzy, and may have to be repeated. Your child may also have to hold their breath a couple times during the scan.

We encourage parents to remain in the room with your child which may help reduce any anxiety. A Child Life Specialist will also be available to provide any distraction techniques or toys. We will ask pregnant moms to wait outside the CT suite to ensure your safety.

After the CT Scan

If your child received sedation, you can join them in the recovery area. If your child received IV contrast,  it’s important to give your child plenty of water to drink during the day to cleanse the dye from their system.

How Long is the CT Scan?

The CT scan only takes about five to 15 minutes. Your child will not feel the x-rays from the CT scan, but sometimes holding still for a long time can be uncomfortable.  If additional images are needed, the procedure may take a while longer.

CT Scan Results

Our SLUCare Physician Group radiologists will review the images, interpret any findings, and send the results to your physician's office. It may take several days for your physician to review the findings and images and make clinical decisions on the next step for your child’s medical care.

At SSM Health Cardinal Glennon, we look forward to caring for your child. With an experienced staff and state-of-the-art imaging technology, you can count on us to deliver the excellent care your child needs. To schedule your appointment today, please call 314-577-5652.

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