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Information on CT Scans for 1-Year-old

My one-year-old daughter has to have a CT scan of a mass on her neck. My questions are: Has anyone been through this? Was the child sedated? How do they sedate a 1-year-old? Where did you get it done? What were your positive/negative experiences? I'm just trying to prepare myself for the procedure and the more I know about how things go, the better I feel!

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Thank you everyone for your responses! It turns out that we didn't need sedation (thank goodness!), the iPod with music videos gave her something to distract her when she was restrained (Mom singing and being a goof probably helped too). I talked to her when the machine moved and told her what it was doing, and she stayed calm for the very short time we needed her to. Thanks again for your help!

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My son just had to have a CT of his head, chest, and abdomen after a fall. He is 27 months. My husband stayed in the room with him and held his hand. We told him he was going into the tunnel like a train and that it would be very loud. The scans were really fast and he didn't have to be sedated. I didn't like the hospital we had it done at. If I were you I'd go to a childrens hospital. They do it everyday and know exactly how to make it go smoothly.

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Hello C., I'm sorry your little one is having to go through this. I am a registered Radiologic Technologist. I have been doing CT's & x-rays for over 10 years. It is always challenging to image the little ones because they are all so different in this situation. So, there isn't a set protocol, but usually go with what works best with the child. First, we always try and do it without sedation, for obvious reasons. Now with imaging the neck. They usually scan the neck as it is and then inject a contrast media into an iv that enhances the blood vessels along with any vascular tumors and this helps the Radiologist determine if the mass etc is suspect for cancer. It is important for your child to hold very still so that we image the entire neck and don't miss anything. We usually place a sticker over the area of concern as well. Some kids fight all these things and some couldn't care less. He will have to lay on a table that moves. They will strap him down with velcro straps that go across legs & chest & head. They will put towels on either side of his head to prevent him from turning his head. Most kids are not great with being restricted. For those that really fight we use what we call a papoose. ER & ambulance personnel use these and once they are in it, all they can do is scream. I have used this before and really prefer it to sedation myself. Now, there is a risk with the injection as with anything you put in the body. You want to make sure that they dose according to weight & not age!! The injection will make your little one get very hot. Kinda like a hot flash and it can be scary for them. It makes girls feel like they wet their pants when they didn't cuz it gets warm down town. It can make some feel very dizzy or nauseated due to the thicker contrast media going thru the vessels in the inner ear. This kinda throws off the equalibrium. Some people have been known to throw up, hence the reason they have you go on an empty stomach if possible. The images go really fast once you get everything into place and I have allowed the mom or dad to stay in the room with lead apron on to hold hand. I have even let them lay slightly on top of child so child can see parent's face the whole time. Depends on tech though for the last one. Little more liability for hospital since parent could technically fall off. Other risks with the test is the allergic reaction to the contrast media and most sites have ER personnel or Radiologist that can assist if needed. I usually have parents watch child for difficulty in breathing or itching, coughing, that sort of thing. The reaction will happen within the first few minutes of the test, so once home you should be good. The other risk is the injection itself is done by a machine hooked up to the iv and it is injected at a high rate of speed. Every now & again the vessel will blow allowing the contrast media to go into the site and not in the vessel. This can cause problems depending on the site. I never inject into a hand or wrist for this reason. Too high risk for nerve damage and I always choose forearm or best yet, nearer to elbow. Vessels are larger and less likely to blow. Hope this helps you. It will be an adventure for sure. Just talk with the tech and let her know what you are most concerned with. You know your child better than anyone. So you will know if he will be able to be strapped down where he can't move on a table that will be going in & out of a large donut shaped machine that makes whirling noises and being injected all at the same time. scary for most adults, but can be terrifying for a child. I have even let kids come in day before to visit the room and see the machine and meet me. I let them play with the table and see how the foot peddles move it. Give them a ride if they are feeling up to it. Then I usually give them a sticker and just kinda make the first time there not be scary. Call ahead and see if the image center will do this for you. Best of luck.

Hi C., I'm sorry you are having to go through this. I'm sure it is very stressful. My son had a CT scan at 17 months of age (head area). I had to stand next to him and help hold him down. I wore a jacket to protect my body and the whole thing only lasted only a few minutes. He cried to entire time because it was a little overwhelming for him. The machine looks like a huge white donut that will spin around his head and neck. It's not a tight space like a MRI machine. He was fine soon after, however. My daughter recently had an MRI at 18 months of age. She had to be put under because it was a 30 minute procedure and she had to be perfectly still. I really doubt if they'll need to put your little one under. Good luck and prayers to you!!!

my son has had ct scans and mri's and they sedated him for both at that age..they gave him cloralhydrate(spelling?) and he was so out of it for like 4 hours after he had it done..its like they are REALLY drunk..he couldnt sit up or anything for most of the day after having that stuff..we have had them done at austin radiology and river ranch radiology and they both use the same things..oh and also they are really limp after the stuff kicks in...when he was a little older they gave the meds to him again and he just giggled and giggled everything you said was funny..i dont like the meds only because it makes them really out of it and it makes them very limp like they can hold there head up or anything its weird..if you have any questions send me a message..sorry i dont mean to scare you i just want to be honest and tell you what happened to me


My daughter had a CT scan before adenoid surgery in May. She is 3 and the CT scan was over at Specially for Children. She did have to be sedated because she was just too afraid of the big machine to climb aboard, even after the techs valiantly played with toys, had me demonstrate lying on the table, lifting the table up, going through the "tube" (it's an open machine), etc. I'm sorry that I'm blanking on what particular medication they gave her, but we waited together in a little room, with a bed, toys, etc., as she just became sort of goofy. Then, she very obligingly had the CT scan, which took all of 10-15 minutes. The only really unpleasant thing was that she was even too afraid to drink the meds, so the techs very gently wrapped her in a sheet and administered it. That was tough and, I learned a few days, when she had the surgery, unnecesssary. The nurses in the pre-op (across the hall, as it happened) suggested that we all have a "tea party" when it came time for sedation. They brought three cups - my husband and I got Gatorade - and we all drank up. My daughter did very well then, too. Your daughter is younger, so this all might go smoother, but it's quite manageable, if not the most fun in the world! Wishing you well, J.

My son just had to have a CT of his head, chest, and abdomen after a fall. He is 27 months. My husband stayed in the room with him and held his hand. We told him he was going into the tunnel like a train and that it would be very loud. The scans were really fast and he didn't have to be sedated. I didn't like the hospital we had it done at. If I were you I'd go to a childrens hospital. They do it everyday and know exactly how to make it go smoothly.

Hi C.,

I know it's not the same thing but my son (now 16 months old) had to have an mri done of his brain back in February. They sedated him with an oral liquid medicine. He seemed to have a problem calming down after it started to work because he just didn't know what was going on. We had this as well as several other procedures done in the Strictly Pediatrics building next to Dell Children's Hospital in Austin. I will say, the nurses and techs are awesome! We have never been disappointed with their patience/attitudes. They deal with children all day! Hope this helps a little. Let me know if I can help in any other way.


I had to have a CT scan done on my son's head a couple of months ago (he was right around a year old, maybe 13 months). They did not sedate him for it, although it may have been because he had a head injury and didn't want to sedate him in order to observe him, not sure what normal procedure is on that. Because of the location of his head injury, I had to help hold his head still while they did the scan. He screamed the whole time...it was horrible as a Mom to have to go through it. They have to be totally and completely still, so they wrapped his whole body up in a large blanket, securing his arms to his sides so that he couldn't wiggle out, and strapped his head down with pillows on each side so that he couldn't turn his head either. The scan itself was done pretty quickly, so it's not like this dragged on for an hour or anything (more like 5 minutes or less), but like I said, he was screaming the whole time, so it FELT like eternity.

I think I would call the place where you are having the procedure done and ask them how they do it (i.e. about sedation). My son's was done in an emergency situation, so I'm sure it was different than something scheduled would be. We had it done at St. Luke's Hospital in Sugar Land. Sorry I couldn't be more helpful or positive, but wanted to share my experience. If they aren't going to sedate her (which I honestly doubt they will since there is probably a pretty big risk with that), they will just have to immobilize her, but like I said, it doesn't take very long. She'll be fine as soon as you're able to pick her up. Hope all comes out okay for you and your little one. Best of luck.

My son had one just over one year. He was sedated with an oral med that put him asleep... he had to stay for observation until he woke up and was acting normally after the scan.

He needed the scan to see if his cancer had grown, so although it wasn't pleasant, the results were reassuring.

We were at WHMC on lackland AFB. Good luck!


My little guy had to have one of his head when he fell down at 18 months. The main thing is you need to let her know it is noisy. We did it at Cy-Fair Hospital in Houston and they were very good. He was not sedated. They want you right next to your child holding their hand. They strap them down on the table and also secure their head, so they are safe. I promised my little guy an ice cream cone after if stayed still. I will pray that everything turns out okay.



I have been through many cat scans with my 5 yo daughter. I believe that a 1 year old will need to be sedated since it is necessary to hold very still while the camera takes it's images. Most likely an IV will be inserted and the meds given through that. It should be fast acting, so when the machine is done, the sedation will quickly wear off. All of my daughters procedures have been done at Texas Children's Hospital. Prayers for good results.

My daughter had a hemangioma on her neck and had to have a CT scan as a 6 or 8 month old (don't remember exactly, she's 8 years old now). We just did everything the docs told us, and she was just fine. We scheduled it at the time of day she usually napped, and she fell asleep during the procedure! They wrapped her on a "mummy" board to hold her still, but it wasn't necessary. She just drifted off to sleep as soon as they layed her down. But there is a big difference between 8 months old and 12 months old, so hard to say how it will work for you. Good luck.

I saw your request and wanted to share my experience with you. My son (now 22) had to have CT scans when he was little and was sedated several times. I have several suggestions, talk to the tech prior to his procedure to ensure that they have done this on other children. They don't have to give you names but you can tell by the way they talk how confident they are for the procedure. Ask who will be giving him the sedation and what type. The more you know the better you will feel. I learned over the years that my feelings about any given procedure rubs off on the child. The calmer I was the calmer the child was. Some techs are trained how to deal with children. They make the experience relaxing for the child.

My 6 month old had a CT Scan of his head about 3 weeks ago. He did not have to be sedated. All I had to do was hold his head still and the scan itself probably took about 1-2 minutes and it was done. I think they would have informed you if she had to be sedated. Ours was quick and painless, hope the same goes for you. Good luck.

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