A computed tomography (CT) scan is a series of X-rays that are taken from different angles and combined to create detailed cross-sectional images of the body. A CT scan is the best way to evaluate many head and body injuries as well as abnormalities. CT scans show normal and abnormal structures in the body, and they help accurately guide the placement of surgical instruments or treatments.
A CT scan may be the preferred method to:
- Diagnose a source of pain caused by infection or inflammation (for example, appendicitis or pancreatitis)
- Diagnose cancer and observe the effects of treatment
- Diagnose injuries to solid organs such as the liver, spleen or kidneys
What to Expect
What to Expect
CT scans at Riley at IU Health are typically arranged by your child's doctor. The doctor will ask a member of the scheduling team to call you to schedule the exam. After you schedule an appointment for a CT scan, it is important to prepare your child for the exam.
Your child may not be able to eat or drink anything before his or her exam depending on what type of CT scan is ordered. Certain types of CT scans require your child to drink a special fluid called contrast before the exam. The radiology technician can mix a variety of flavors with the contrast, or your child can bring a noncarbonated beverage to mix with the contrast. For certain CT scans, your child will need to have contrast injected. A radiology team member will advise you before the scan if your child needs an injection.
Trained pediatric CT technologists use distraction methods to help reduce your child’s anxiety during the exam. The CT room at Riley at IU Health has a projector that shines stars on the ceiling, and we offer sensory tools, such as squeeze balls, music and light-up wands, to help your child remain still during the CT scan.
To show your child how a CT scan is performed, we recommend the Starlight Children's Foundation Radiology Center program, an interactive video that teaches children and adolescents about radiology exams. The CT scan portion goes through the steps of the exam and talks about the possibility of intravenous (IV) contrast. Be sure to preview the video before sharing it with your child to make sure it is age-appropriate.
Your child should drink plenty of fluids after the exam is complete.
In addition to our primary hospital location at the Academic Health Center in Indianapolis, IN, we have convenient locations to better serve our communities throughout the state.