Anesthesiologist Questions CT Scans

Do kids need anesthesia before being taken for a CT scan?

My son is 2 years old and the doctors are suspecting a pneumonia for him. He has been advised a CT scan for complete diagnosis of his condition. Will they give him anesthesia before taking him in for a CT scan?

19 Answers

Although there is n nothing about a CT scan that requires anesthesia, it is important for the patient to be perfectly still during the time the CT images are obtained. For a 2 year old child, it is unlikely that the child will remain perfectly still long enough for a CT image to be obtained. For that reason, anesthesia is often administered to a child who is having a CT scan, just to enable the patient to remain perfectly still so that those CT images can be obtained.
Yes. Anesthesia or some form of sedation is needed in children for CT scans as it is important for them to remain perfectly still during the scan.
If simple sedation doesn't work, then some form of general anedthesia/deep sedation would be necessary. The child needs to be still for a good study
Not necessarily. If you can get him to hold still for a few minutes in the scanner, he won't need anesthesia. You should be able to be with him in the scan room to lessen his/her anxiety.
Most children do not need anesthesia for CT scans
Anesthesia is typically not required for a CT scan. The test is so fast that anesthesia is usually not required. Often, the CT tech will allow a parent to be in the area under a lead apron or in the viewing area so that they can talk the child through the scan.
First of all I am sorry your young son is having pulmonary issues. For this reason I am sure they will be as conservative as possible with sedation as they would not want to further any issues he may have with his breathing and oxygenation. If he is extremely agitated such that the scan is unobtainable, you may be asked for permission to give one of several strategies of sedation, very briefly. An anesthesiologist would then be involved for sure and again would only provide the minimum degree of sedation to ensure both yours son’s safety, as well as efficacy of the CT.
This depends. Generally, the child would not be given a general anesthetic before the procedure. However, they usually want the child sedated but somewhat awake so that they cannot move, and are not frightened by the scan and the noise it can make.
Is this a recurrent pneumonia problem? I would ask why to the CT rather than why to anesthesia. However, depending on the child, most two year olds will need something to allow them to stay still for the few minutes that it takes to get good pictures. Sometimes just sedation is all that is needed. Some children are capable of staying still if spoken to about the procedure... it is very much an individual situation.
2 year old will likely need sedation at the least. Depth of sedation depends on other circumstances. Follow their instructions about last oral intake (solids AND liquids) to reduce the risk of vomiting and aspiration.
Most likely yes. The patient needs to be still for the scanner to work. Also it is scary for a child to climb into the machine. Your child most likely will not be under “general” anesthesia, but will be in a light sleep and still breathing for himself.

Lesley Williams MD, MPH
Patients need to remain still for CT scan. If your child can do that you can avoid sedation and anesthesia.
A 2 year old will not hold still in a CT scanner unless they receive some
sedation. It would be a very scary experience for a young child without
Pneumonia in a 2-year-old does not require a CT scan for diagnosis. A simple blood test for infection, sputum culture for specificity of the organism, and a quick, painless chest radiogram will do just fine in defining the cause and treatment of his pneumonia.
A CT scan is typically of short duration, but if he is not able to lay still (I know my 2 year old wouldn't!), they will most likely give him medication through an IV or orally to help him relax for that short period of time.
Little kids are not very cooperative and move a lot as I have seen in my long experience. They need to be sedated for certain procedures and should be managed by trained anesthesia personnel and should be carefully monitored.
Possibly, but sometimes as long as the child can be comfortably kept relaxed and not moving, it can be done without anesthesia since CT is fast.
Yes, it is very likely he will need some type of anesthesia, because 2-year-olds are seldom cooperative on their own during CT scans.

Dr Ketch