Medical Specialties

Computed Tomography (CT) Scans


At Phoenix Children's, we embace a concept known as "Image Gently" which means we are committed to using low dose CT scanners that have been selected with our pediatric patients in mind.

What is a CT Scan?

A CT scan (also known as CAT scan) uses X-rays to take pictures of the inside of a patient’s body.

The CT scanner is a large camera with a circle-shaped opening in the middle. Some say it looks like a large donut. There is a table or bed that moves into the opening of the scanner during the scan and the patient may hear a humming noise similar to a washing machine. The scanner does not touch or hurt the patient.

Common Uses for the Procedure

In children, CT is typically used to diagnose causes of abdominal pain, evaluate for injury after trauma, diagnose and stage cancer, monitor response to treatment for cancer and diagnose and monitor infectious or inflammatory disorders. With CT, it is possible to obtain very detailed pictures of the heart and large blood vessels in children, even newborn infants.

Except for the chest X-ray, CT is the most commonly used imaging procedure for evaluating problems in the chest such as:

  • Complications from infections such as pneumonia
  • A tumor that arises in the lung or has spread there from a distant site
  • Airway disease such as inflammation of the bronchi (breathing passages)
  • Birth defects
  • Trauma to blood vessels or lung

CT is well-suited for visualizing diseases or injury of important organs in the abdomen including the liver, kidney, spleen and pelvic region. CT is sometimes used to:

  • Diagnose appendicitis
  • Evaluate adolescents who have inflammatory bowel disorders
  • Detect abdominal tumors or birth defects
  • Discover cysts or tumors of the ovary
  • Find abnormalities of the bladder
  • See stones in the urinary tract
  • Detect disease of the pelvic bones

It is very important for the patient to hold still during the scan in order to obtain diagnostic images. Most CT scans are about 10- 20 minutes in length. It may be necessary to schedule the appointment with anesthesia or sedation.

Some CT exams require contast, a liquid that helps to visualize the body structures in more detail. The two most common types of contrast are given orally or by an IV.

What to Expect - Before you Arrive

When you arrive to the Imaging Department, sign your child's name in at the registration desk located on the first floor of the Main Building, across from the Gift Shop. When your child's name is called, our staff will complete the proper paperwork with you.

Review our helpful tips on what to expect before you arrive.

Note: Be sure to bring any related documentation such as physician notes and prior images to your child’s appointment.

Contact us

For more information or to make a referral, please call 602-933-1213.

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