Anesthesiologist Questions CT Scans

Why was my son given anesthesia for a CT scan?

My son has just been taken in for a CT Scan. He is 3 years old and was given anesthesia for the test. Is it appropriate?

19 Answers

Excessive movement during the scanning may cause blurred images. Also at times your son may be asked to hold his breath and stay quite still while each scan is taken. Patients who have difficulty lying still or feel anxious or claustrophobic are often administered sedation and/or anesthesia to allow for these requirements to occur. It is probably unreasonable to ask a 3 year old to tolerate the procedure otherwise. It will be harder on you as a parent than on your child. Inherent risk of anesthesia in a healthy patient is less than your son being a passenger in a vehicle on the highway. In perspective of day to day life, the risk is appropriate for the benefit.
A CT Scan requires cooperation on the patient's part and a 3 year old is not going to sit still while they are in a foreign place, with strangers around and away from the comforts of parents. I have done general anesthesia for both MRIs and CT scan on children and it was appropriate.
Typically, younger children undergo these scanning procedures with anesthesia because they are not able to reliably hold still enough long enough to complete an adequate scan.
It is. It is quite unlikely that a 3 year old can be completely motionless in a CT machine in unfamiliar environment.
Depending on the condition that is being investigated, at times a CT scan is ordered which is a very sensitive test. During the imaging the patient needs to be completely motion less. Therefore especially in the pediatric age group anesthesia is provided to keep the child from moving which may distort the images obtained and then necessitates more X-ray exposure to repeat the scanning.
A CT scan on a 3-yr old would be useless unless they are perfectly still during the scan. Therefore it is appropriate for children and other people unable to follow directions to be sedated or anesthetized during such scans. Parents must have given permission for the scan and for the sedation/anesthesia.
The decision of whether or not to administer anesthesia for a CT scan for children depends on various factors. The type of CT scan which is being done is important as well as the cooperation of the patient. In order to obtain good results from a CT scan in some cases it is necessary that the patient does not move. In these cases, it may be possible to obtain the same result in the children (holding still for the exam) who comprehend what is going on, by talking them through it (parents present) or distracting them. Sometimes it may not work. The decision to use anesthesia never comes from the anesthesiologist but it either comes from the pediatrician or the radiologist.
Yes as your son is only three years old he cannot stay still for the procedure so its advisable to give him anesthesia and keep him from moving.
Yes it is.
Any movement by child will result in a poor CT image and will inturn make it difficult for the radiologist to read the CT scan
Yes. Even though the CT scan is a very short duration procedure, it is essential that the child be absolutely still. Not always the easiest thing to ask of a child. And if the child moves, the CT will have to be repeated because of movement artifacts.
Yes, giving a 3 year old anesthesia for a CT is very common and appropriate. A person has to be very still to get sharp CT images. It is very difficult to get a 3 year old to understand and comply with this.
Yes it was appropriate. The patient must be still to get the best results. Children are often fearful when away from the parents and the Cat scanner is noisy. Completely safe to do with general anesthesia. A well trained pediatric anesthesia physician or CRNA will be present and monitoring all vital signs.
To get good images during a CT scan (special x-ray pictures taken in succession that are grouped together to generate multiple highly detailed pictures inside the body) regardless of age, the patient must hold very still for the duration of the scan (~15-30 minutes). Obviously asking a 3y to hold still for half an hour would be nearly impossible, hence we often get asked to put a child to sleep for CT and MRI scans.
If your child won't hold still to get good pictures, then yes it is appropriate. A CT scan is very quick usually so if the child can hold still, it would avoid anesthesia. You should be able to go in with the child if that would help him/her hold still
Yes. CT scans require complete stillness to get an adequate study. Children often have difficulty being still for a variety of reasons: they may be frightened by all the equipment and strangers, they may be in pain, or simply because they are children and are a bundle of energy. In those situations the anesthetic is very brief and very safe.
Though it is a very short scan, if your son will not hold still, then they have to repeat it. That is a a lot of radiation. So then do what is best for the child?
Can you imagine a three year old boy staying still for more than a few minutes? Most children this age require the assistance of some level of sedation, and the safest way is to have an anesthesia team provide that assistance.
To obtain the sharpest, most accurate images from a CT scan, the patient (your son) must lie perfectly still for the entire scan, which may last 3 - 10 minutes. Most 3 year-olds need sedation or anesthesia in order to lie still for this exam and the anesthesiologist should explain the anesthesia care of your son to you and obtain your consent beforehand.
Yes, since the child must remain still for the study in order to generate the proper scanning images.