CT Scan of the Neck: About Your Child's Test

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What is it?

A CT (computed tomography) scan uses X-rays to make detailed pictures of the inside of your child's body. A CT scan of the neck can give the doctor information about your child's neck, throat, tonsils, and other parts near the neck.

During the test, your child will lie on a table that is attached to the CT scanner. The CT scanner is a large doughnut-shaped machine.

Why is this test done?

A CT scan of the neck can help find problems such as infection or tumors.

How do you prepare for the test?

Let your child know that a CT scan doesn't hurt.

If your child gets nervous in tight spaces, ask the doctor if your child will need sedation to help relax before the test. You can also ask if your child will swallow a contrast material before the test or if your child will have contrast materials (dye) put into an IV in the arm. The doctor will tell you if your child should stop eating or drinking before the test.

How is the test done?

  • Your child may have contrast materials (dye) put into an IV in the arm.
  • Your child will lie on a table that's attached to the CT scanner.
  • The table slides into the round opening of the scanner. The table will move during the scan. The scanner moves within the doughnut-shaped casing around your child's body.
  • Your child will be asked to hold still during the scan. Or a safety strap or device may be used. Your child may also be asked to hold their breath for short periods. You may need to help your child do these things.
  • Your child will be kept safe and comfortable during the test. You may be able to stay in the room with your child. A technologist will watch through a window and talk with your child during the test.

How long does the test take?

The test will take about 30 to 60 minutes. Most of this time is spent getting ready for the scan. The actual test takes only a few minutes.

What happens after the test?

  • Depending on the reason for the test, your child will probably be able to go home right away. If your child is in the hospital, your child will be taken back to their room.
  • If dye was used, have your child drink lots of liquids for 24 hours after the test, unless your doctor says not to.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. Ask your doctor when you can expect to have your child's test results.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.