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At UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, we believe parents and guardians can contribute to the success of this test, and we invite you to participate. Please read the following information to learn about the scan and how you can help.
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A computerized tomography (toe-MOG-ruff-ee) scan, also called a CAT scan or CT scan, uses X-rays and a computer to take detailed pictures of the organs and bones. These pictures look like cross-sections or “slices” of the body that are then put together by the computer.
You may want to practice lying still with your child for periods of 5 to 10 minutes at a time prior to your child’s scheduled scan. This practice may help prevent your child from needing sedation medication.
You may want to bring along a “comfort” item—such as a favorite stuffed animal or “blankie”—for your child to hold during the scan. You may also bring your child’s favorite movie or DVD to watch during the exam.
Depending on what part of your child’s body is being scanned, there may be important instructions on things to do or not do the day before and the day of your child’s CT. Please follow the specific instructions given to you by your doctor before the scan. Items such as jewelry, zippers, specific clothing items or glitter could interfere with the diagnostic exam and may need to be removed before imaging.
Your child’s doctor may order sedation medication for your child, but it may not be needed. The Department of Pediatric Radiology staff will make every effort to relax your child with music therapy, room decorations, and visual distraction during the scan, which can shorten your child's scan time and make sedation unnecessary.
The CT scan will be done at the Department of Pediatric Radiology of Children’s Hospital by a CT technologist who is specially trained to do CT scans on children. In the scan room, you will see the CT machine and a long table that will slide into the tube-shaped or tunnel-like scanner where the camera is located.
As a parent, you may have concerns about radiation exposure. Children’s Hospital takes every precaution to make sure your child is safe.
We welcome your help and support during this scan. One parent or guardian is invited to join your child in the exam room and scan room. Other adults and children must stay in the waiting area.
A report of your child’s scan will be sent to the doctor who ordered it, usually within 48 hours. If the results are urgent, the referring doctor will be contacted immediately.
If your child has any special needs or health issues you feel the doctor performing the scan needs to know about, please call the Department of Pediatric Radiology at Children’s before the test and ask to speak with a nurse. It is important to notify us in advance about any special needs.
Preparing your child beforehand, as well as comforting your child during the test, will help your child have a more positive experience. Sometimes it is difficult to know how to explain tests to children. If you have any questions about ways to prepare or support your child or feel your child will have difficulty during the test, please call the Department of Pediatric Radiology at Children’s and ask to speak with the Child Life Specialist.
Children's Hospital's main campus is located in the Lawrenceville neighborhood. Our main hospital address is:
UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
One Children’s Hospital Way
4401 Penn Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
In addition to the main hospital, Children's has many convenient locations in other neighborhoods throughout the greater Pittsburgh region.
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Interested in giving to Children's Hospital? Support the hospital by making a donation online, joining our Heroes in Healing monthly donor program, or visiting our site to learn about the other ways you can give back.