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9 Month Old Having a CT Scan on Wednesday

My son is having a CT scan on Wednesday. He is a big baby boy...30 inches & 25 pounds. The doctor's are concerned with the increase in the size of his head & want to check for macrocephaly. I'm terrified about the scan...especially the fact that he will need to be sedated for the test. Bigger heads run in my side of the family..so hopefully that's all it is. He is a smart little boy but can't pull up yet when he's on his back & doesn't try to pull up in his crib. That is what prompted the test as well. Has anyone gone through this test & had any experience with >95% head size? I'd love to hear your thoughts...thanks so much.

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Thank you to everyone for your advice & well wishes. We did have the CT scan & everything turned out to be just fine. The doctor said he had some benign fluid but she wasn't concerned. I guess I just have myself a big boy. :) We do have a follow up with a neurologist next month just to be on the safe side..to make sure he doesn't have any concerns about his development. Thanks again. This is a wonderful site & you all helped put me more at ease. I really appreciate that.

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Hospital visits are so scary. Just remember that this is so routine for the docs. They do this many times a day, thin how good they must be at it. Also if noone else has told you when the little ones wake up from being out they can be scary to watch, but it is normal and they will calm down soon.

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I know it sounds very scary, but the CT scan is a very quick test (about 5-10 minutes). They will sedate him so he doesn't move around, but they don't always sedate babies for this. My son is 3 months old and has had to have several CT scans because he was found to have a bleed on his brain at birth (he's doing fine now!), and only once did they sedate him (and that was only because they were getting an MRI as well which is a much longer test). They would swaddle him tightly, place his head gently in this cushioned immobilizer, and gave him a pacifier. You might discuss this with the radiology people before you go there. Before every test they told us not to feed him for 4 hours before because they were going to sedate him, but then every time they said he looked relaxed enough to try the test without sedation. However, 9 months is a bit older and perhaps they are concerned he will move around alot. In any case, I wouldn't worry about the sedation either. They usually use a very fast acting medication that babies recover from quickly and don't have problems the rest of the day. I don't have any experience with macrocephaly, but try not to worry about anything yet because it sounds like your family just has larger heads. I hope all goes well. Hang in there, it will be fine!

Hi S.- it looks like you've gotten a lot of responses already! I don't have any experience w/ the scan, but my now 18 mo. old daughter has been in the 95-100+ percentile in regards to head circumference since she was born. My Dr. ended up having my husband and i measure our heads and we realized my husband had a pretty big head- this reassured my Doc. that it was more than likely just hereditary...

What hospital are they doing the scan at? They did my son's at Children's in Boston. They only give the kid a small amount of sedative, enough for the peroid of time under the scan. I'm sure he;ll be in good hands. If he has a big head pulling up woul dbe more difficult. It probably has little to do with development and lots to do with the size of his head. Either way maybe going to a physical therapist and getting advice would be a good thing to do. At his young age they will probably say how often you should put him on his belly and other advice. It may help in the long run. Good luck.

Our daughter needed a CT when she was only 4.5 weeks. Believe me, the test is so much harder on you than it is on them.

Our son's head was in the 99%, but our doctors never recommended this type of test. But, he did have some of the movement problems that you mention. He ended up needing to wear a helmet for a few months because his head shape was off.

Like you, large heads run in our family so I'm very hopeful for you that there will be nothing wrong with your son. I'll say a prayer for you.

Best of luck!

I know how you feel about the ct scan. When my daughter was 2 she had her 1st one for seizures that were happening. Its not as bad as you think. I was sooo nervous. We we not allowed to go in with her. The staff came out & gave her a type of drink to relax her. They came back about a 1/2 hr later to bring her in. The nurse carried her away into back area. When they were thru, they came out to bring us in while she woke up. She was really very good about it. They said she did fine, (we did fine too :0 ). We had ours done at UMass, Worcester. Good luck.

My son is 16 months and has always had a 95th + head. He had an ultrasound when he was about 9 months. He wasnt sedated, but it was fast. Everything turned out fine. Some kids just have big heads! I wouldn't worry about it. Chances are that hes fine.

I don't have any experience with sedation or a CT scan. I do have a daughter who's head has always been in the 95% since she was born. She is now 5 and has never had a problem with it. I have had experience with anestesia with her for tubes in her ears. It was very nerve wracking but it all went great. She had to have it done twice in one year so I know how you are feeling right now. Both my husband and my families have some people with big heads, so we think she got the big head genes. I will keep you and your son in our prayers and hope it all goes well.

God Bless

Hi S.,
I can honestly tell you that I have been where you are and am now on the other side with a beautiful and vibrant daughter who will be 5 in February. At her birth, the dr's noticed that she had no soft spot. Within hours she was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder that we did not know that I have. She was scheduled for a CT scan at 36 hours old. She eventually had it when she was 3 1/2 days old. For her it was extremely easy. We were at CCMC and they are wonderful--in general, everyone working at a children's hospital is great. They know and appreciate kids (of ALL ages) and interact with both kids and parents appropriately--understanding the impact this is having on the parents, especially. The scan is very easy--our daughter did not need sedation for it because she slept through the entire thing. However, our other daughter has required sedation for other reasons, and all is well there, too. She is angry when she comes out and takes a little while for her to calm down, but otherwise, sedation and anesthesia have gone smoothly for both of our daughters.

Our first daughter had craniosynostosis--the premature fusion of the bones of the skull. Clearly, this is not what is being considered for your son. At 6 months, she underwent surgery to separate those fused areas--like I wrote above... she will be 5 in February and is a beautiful, vibrant, intelligent little girl. It is completely unknown to anyone unless we say something. I tell you this to offer my support and to let you know that you are NOT alone with craniofacial differences. I pray that everything will reveal to be as it should be, but if the scan does show that further tests/action is required, you will be fine. Your baby will be fine.

Please feel free to contact me with any specific concerns or even questions about what we went through. I am comfortable talking about it... now. Both of our children have undergone anesthesia (the first one at 6 months; the second one has been sedated and undergone anesthesia multiple times since she was 2 months old), so I have been there and can hopefully help you to understand what to expect. My prayers are with you and your baby boy--May God be with you tomorrow.

Hi Stephanie,
I went through this with my son.
His head measured off the charts, he was a late bloomer for physical milestones, didnt walk until almost 2. had a spinal curve that complicated matters. Anyway to make a long story short, they were concerned with the milestone issues, and the head measurement. We had a ct, he was sedated. probably was a little over a year old. It is scary , for you, he wont remember it at all, just be prepared that when they are sedated, their color is not terriffic, and their muscles are very limp, scary to see, but my son was no worse for the wear. He is 12 and a half now. caught up on all physical milestones, and now along with his head being off the charts, so is his IQ lol. So we equate the large head measurement with a brighter than average brain, he has always liked this comparison. Oh and btw, he has grown into his head size. Try not to worry too much about this, I wish you luck just getting through the test. Keep us posted as to how he does.
Take care

Hi Stephanie,

I have a 16 month old little boy who has consistently been in the 95-100+ percentile for head circumference since birth. Although he did not have the a CT scan (he was able to have the ultrasound instead at 9 mos due to the fact that his soft spot had not closed yet), I figured our experience might help to ease your nerves a bit.

I had been worried due to the fact that so many people kept commenting on how big my baby's head was (sometimes to the point of being downright rude). He was also on the late side for both crawling and walking. The Pediatrician did not seem concerned and had attributed it to probably just a hereditary trait. Anyway, in the end, the Radiologist and Pediatrician confirmed that he did have a slight amount of extra cerebrospinal fluid, but that it was nothing to worry about. We were told that many babies that present with larger heads often have this extra fluid build up but that it doesn't cause any problems and there is no need for concern. As the baby grows and spinal cord lengthens, the fluid will redistribute itself, in addition to some of it being reabsorbed into the body.

As a mother, I know how stressful it can be to worry about your child's health. I hope our experience helps to ease your mind some. Good luck and best wishes to you and your family.


I don't have experience with the large head size but the not pulling up and such doesn't seem like that big of a deal at 9 months. My daughter is 9-1/2 months and not crawling yet. She also doesn't pull up. This didn't concern our doctor. The age range for gross motor skills is so large that I'm surprised your doctor is concerned about it. It might just be that he wants to check the head size.
However, my newphew had to go thru a CT scan and needed to be sedated as well. He did fine with it.

Hope this helps and we will keep you in our thoughts and prayers,
L. M

My sons head is large, runs on my husbands side of the family. At first his head measured in the 90-95% then at 4months his head went off the growth chart so my pediatrician sent us for a head ultrasound. We were not told about a CT scan. We took the results to a neurosurgeon at MGH Dr William Baker. We were told he has fluid between his brain and his skull that should reabsorb by age 2yr. So far developmentally he has been fine. He did not roll,I think the large head made it too hard. He started crawling at 10m and walking at 14m.
Good luck.

Hi Stephanie,
My friend's son also had/has a large head. He too had trouble pulling up etc as a baby. His problem seemed to stem more from his neck muscles (and all of his muscles really) not being strong enough to support his head. He did have the scan (which came back normal and was not difficult for him at all). he received early intervention physical therapy until he was almost 2. He is now three and does everything my three year old does and yes, his head is still large...more room for brains I say...:o)

good luck with your test. I hope your situation turns out as positive as my friend's situation did!


It is a very scary thing anytime someone thinks there may be something wrong with your child. Try to relax. Hospital personnel are very experienced with babies and CT scans. They may sedate him a bit to keep him still and so he won't be afraid. It is really quick as others have mentioned. As far as the results, if you have "big heads" in the family, that's likely all it is, but if it is hydrocephaly it can be treated and all will be well. It is important to find that out now so that steps can be taken and no damage is done if there is a problem. As to not pulling up yet, sometimes babies that are bigger have a harder time learning to move around as they have more body/head to move, and this may be the case with your guy too. My cousin's first had a very large head, he was over 13 lbs at birth due to gestational diabetes. He's just graduated high school with honors. But he had delayed gross motor milestones because he was figuring out how to move around that big body!
Try to relax, the test will be over and done with before you know it.

I wish you the very best and hope the scan just shows he is a big baby. I have a very good friend whose son has a huge head. He had a scan when he was an infant. He is fine. He is 6 and just about grown into his head. His father has a big head as well. My youngest had a scan when he was two (he fractured his skull) He is also fine. It is completely unnerving. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

my son had a cat scan because his head growth was off the chart. it is very hard to do this test if he is not sedated he will be fine. my son was not sedated at first and it took forever and then they got the order form the md for something to help him relax. my son preston had craniosnytosis his midline suture line was fused at birth 1 and 10,000 births basically his head was growing front to back and not all around. he had surgery and he is a healthy happy 11 yr old now, but i know what you are going through. let me know how you make out.
my newphew also had a ultrasound of his head because his head was off the charts and he is fine. the men in our family jsut have big heads and lots of brains..... mother of 13 11 8 18mths

Hi S.,

Nice name by the way. :) My daughter was born with many complications so I understand what it is like to watch your child go through tests. It can be difficult especially because you can feel helpless to explain what is happening. She is now almost 4 and went through a lot of medical treatments from brain surgery to 45 day treatment for a staff infection, MRIs etc. She is doing so much better than the doctors ever thought and is so happy - you would not know she went through such experiences when she was younger. Your love and support will do more than you realize. I saw so many babies suffering alone, so remember that your simply loving your son has a lot of power in and of itself. Also, the tests go by quickly and in this case being sedated is good for him. Think of how fast these past 9 months have gone when you think about the few minutes the scan will actually take. They have come so far with medical science, we are blessed in this day and age compared to generations before us. Good luck tomorrow and if you can try to think of the big picture and not just the moment you are in- that may help ease your worries.

Hospital visits are so scary. Just remember that this is so routine for the docs. They do this many times a day, thin how good they must be at it. Also if noone else has told you when the little ones wake up from being out they can be scary to watch, but it is normal and they will calm down soon.

I would say no to the CT scan and tell your pedi you want your son to see a pediatric neurosurgeon first!
My 1.5 month old saw a pedi neurosergeon at NEMC in Boston because he has metopic suture synostosis and has to have surgery. At first they were not sure if his forehead was fused or if it was something else & they almost wanted to do a CT scan but beacause that is a lot of radiation they recommended he see a specialist first. Thank God we did because he was the one who told us what it is and he does not need the CT scan now. His name is Carl Heilman, MD at Tufts medical center (NEMC/Floating Hospital) in Boston
###-###-####. I would recommend seeing him or someone else in Boston because they are the best & CT scans are risky!

Hi S.,
I just wanted to chime in - My daughter's head circumference was in the >95% as an infant, and, at one point, was at 150%! They did not do a CT scan, but instead kept an eye on it, and she was fine. She had trouble sitting up until she started 'growing into' her head (lol), but it turned out just fine. It happens. :) I wouldn't worry too much until you know more information.

HI. My son is now 6yrs old... he has had these since he was infant due to hydrocephelous. We were fortunate that he did not have to be sedated. Are you having it done at childrens? They are wonderful there. He still has them every year and does wonderful because we praxtice being still... obviously at 9mo he can not practice. Be confident that he will be fine. Good luck.

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