Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

CT scan information for parents and carers

CT scan information for parents and carers
beginning of content

CT scans and radiation exposure in children and young people

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission) is promoting new and existing resources to inform the referral and provision of CT scans for children and young people. Assisted by a number of partners, the Commission’s work supports a reduction in unwarranted radiation exposure to children and young people. The Commission has published a summary report on the outcomes of their work to reduce radiation exposure to children and young people from CT scans.

What is a CT scan?

A computed tomography (CT) scan uses X-rays to provide images of what is hard and soft inside a body. These X-rays are taken using a rotating ring that is moved around the body. A computer can then turn all the X-ray images into 3D images. As CT scans involve many X-rays, they use higher levels of ionising radiation than other types of medical imaging.

Children and young people and CT scans

CT is a valuable diagnostic tool that is of benefit in a wide range of clinical situations. However, the higher level of ionising radiation used in CT compared to other types of imaging, and their use in childhood or adolescence, has been linked to a slight increase in developing cancer later in life.

It is important to ensure that CT scans are undertaken for time-critical conditions and when there are evidence-based protocols for a particular disease or certain conditions (such as, serious head trauma). However, children and young people are more sensitive to ionising radiation as their bodies are still developing. This means that appropriate consideration needs to be given to whether:

  • a CT scan now will improve the child’s health care
  • previous scans are available that could provide the information needed
  • there are other imaging options that could be used
  • a necessary CT scan be done using a ‘kid-sized’ radiation dose
  • the benefits and risks have been explained to the parents or carers.

The following pages provide access to information for parents and carers, professionals who refer children for CT scans, providers of medical imaging services and oral healthcare professionals.

Father and son reading about CT scans

CT scans - information for parents and carers

Providing parents and carers with information about CT scans.

Doctor discussing CT scans with a parent and child

CT scans - information for referrers

Provides doctors requesting CT scans with information regarding CT related radiation in children and young people.

CT scan radiographers and medical imaging providers

CT scans - information for radiographers and medical imaging providers

Information to support medical imaging services undertaking specialised scanning on children and young people.

CT cone beam scan

CT scans - information for dental practitioners and their patients

Information supporting dental healthcare professionals to talk with parents and carers about CT scans.

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

CT scan -

A CT scan is a sophisticated X-ray that takes a 3-dimensional picture of any part of the body using a computer. CT scans can often replace other techniques used to diagnose, such as exploratory surger

Read more on myDr website

CT scan - Better Health Channel

The CT scan is a medical imaging procedure that uses x-rays and digital computer technology to create detailed images of the body.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

CT scan (computerised tomography) | Sydney Children's Hospitals Network

What is a CT scan? CT stands for "computerised tomography"

Read more on Sydney Children's Hospitals Network website

SPECT-CT Scan - InsideRadiology


Read more on InsideRadiology website

What parents should know about CT scans for children | ARPANSA

A CT scan is an X-ray imaging technique that is used on people of all ages, including children. CT scans are vitally important for quickly investigating serious health problems inside the body, for example, bleeding inside the skull after a fracture. CT scans provide more information than a plain X-ray image.

Read more on ARPANSA – Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency website

Computed Tomography (CT)

This article tells consumers about a computed tomography (CT) scan, the benefits and the risks, what happens before, during and after having a CT scan.

Read more on Diagnostic Imaging Pathways website

Dual Energy CT Scan - InsideRadiology


Read more on InsideRadiology website

CT scans for children: Information for referrers | ARPANSA

CT scans are a valuable investigative technique because it provides a low risk, non-invasive, fast and accurate method of diagnosing serious injury and illness. However, all these benefits come with an increased exposure to ionising radiation which has been linked to an increased risk of cancer.

Read more on ARPANSA – Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency website

Computer aided detection (CT scans, MRI scans) information | myVMC

Computer aided detection (CAD) is a group of imaging techniques, including CT scans and MRI scans, that produce images of internal body structures.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

CT imaging and children | ARPANSA

CT scans are an important medical diagnostic technique that is used on adults and children of all ages.

Read more on ARPANSA – Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo