There are a number of benefits and risks in having a CT scan. The content below provides parents and carers with information to support them in the process of their child being referred for and having a scan.
It is important to remember that while CT scans come with some risk, in emergency situations a CT scan may be the best option.
If it has been agreed that a CT scan should take place, there are a number of resources to help children, parents and carers ensure the process goes smoothly and that risks are kept as low as possible.
What you need to know about CT scans for children – a resource for parents and carers
The 'What you need to know about CT scans for children' brochure explains the benefits, the risks and questions you and your child can ask healthcare professionals. It also explains what you can do to prepare your child for a CT scan if it is needed. It's companion poster ‘Your Child and CT Scans’ includes questions and ideas for parents and carers to discuss with their child’s doctor.
A smartphone/tablet application has been developed for children - Okee in Medical Imaging - by the Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne. This app use videos, games and cartoons to explain various medical imaging processes and tell children about what they can expect when a CT scan is performed.
The Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne has produced a four-minute YouTube video ‘Having a CT scan of your chest'. It is a kids-focused video that shows a child experiencing the CT scanning process.
Frequently asked questions
A list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) have been developed by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care that respond to a number of the questions about CT scanning in more detail. The document also covers aspects of cone beam CT scans used in dental care.
Advice from physicians or professionals performing scans
If you or your child have questions or are concerned, you should first talk to the doctor or dentist who requested the CT scan. They can help you with decisions about the right test for your child. You can also ask questions to the person doing the scan.
Radiologists are the medical specialists responsible for reading images taken during the CT scan and writing the reports associated with the CT scan. The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists (RANZCR) also has resources providing consumers with information on CT scans for children, including:
- the Inside Radiology website that provides detailed information on types of medical imaging scans for particular medical conditions.
- RANZCR has also published a position paper on Computed Tomography and Radiation Risk (February 2018) that provides information on balancing the benefits and risks of CT scans and how the College is supporting quality use of CT.
Advice from NPS MedicineWise
NPS MedicineWise is an Australian organisation that works to positively change the attitudes and behaviours which exist around the use of medicines and medical tests, so that both consumers and health professionals are equipped to make the best decisions. The NPS MedicineWise website provides a range of information for consumers on medical imaging choices for children, including CT scans:
- Does my child need imaging?
- Before your child has imaging
- Imaging choices for children – X-ray and CT
- Imaging choices for children – MRI and ultrasound
- Radiation risks in children
- Ways to help your child during imaging
- Imaging resources
A tool to help you create a question list for your doctor’s appointment. Go to the Question Builder, prepare your list, then print or email it so you remember what you want to ask.
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Last reviewed: June 2017