Even though the experience is not painful, attending hospital and having a CT scan can be a frightening experience for your child. Here are some tips to help you to prepare your youngster for their CT scan.
What happens during the CT scan?
During the CT scan, your child will need to lie very still on a special bed that is passed through the scanner. Some young children will need to be sedated to stop them from fidgeting, and this means that you'll have to withdraw all food and drinks for a few hours prior to the scan. If your child does not require sedation, they will be allowed to eat and drink normally.
Your child will usually be allowed to wear their own clothes for the scan. Make sure that there are no metal fastenings on the garments and remove all jewellery from your child.
One parent is usually allowed to stay with their child during the CT scan, and you will be provided with a lead coat to wear to protect you from the radiation used. Note here that you won't be allowed to stay with your child if you are pregnant.
It's quite usual for a child to be nervous about a CT scan and it's important that you explain to them exactly what's going to happen. Tell them that they are going to lie on a sort of narrow bed and that a strap will be placed around them so that they don't fall off. The bed will then be wheeled into the 'donut' (CT machine).
Your child will hear a sound like a washing machine starting up when the scanner is switched on, but the machine won't touch them at all and it doesn't hurt. They will then need to keep really, really still until the machine stops (about 10 minutes). The bed is then wheeled out and the scan is over. You will be able to hold the child's hand during the scan and the radiology technician will talk to you both through an intercom throughout the whole process.
You can help to distract your child by reading them a story or perhaps making the experience into a game of statues to encourage them to keep as still as they can throughout the procedure. Most hospital X-ray departments have a wide array of toys and books to help distract children who are attending for scans and other such procedures.
You can help to make your child's CT scan less daunting for them by helping to prepare following the tips given above. For more information and advice on how to help your child through their CT scan, have a chat with the specialist nursing staff at your hospital radiology department.