What is a cardiac CT scan?

A cardiac CT scan is a test using radiation which produces images of the heart and surrounding blood vessels.

Why is a cardiac CT scan test done?

To give important detailed anatomical information on the structure and function of the heart which helps your paediatric cardiologist decide on the best treatment. If your child requires surgery the images help your surgeon to plan the operation.

What happens during the test?

Your child will lie on a special bed which moves through the donut shaped scanner. Older children will be asked to hold their breath whilst the pictures are taken. Babies are secured safely on the bed. They often fall asleep. A betablocker medicine such as propranolol may be given to slow the heart rate, in order to improve image quality. A parent can stand next to their child during the scan (they will be given a lead protective apron to wear). No pregnant mothers are allowed in the scanning room.

Toddlers and young children may be frightened. Sedation may be needed.

How long does it take?

It usually takes about 30 minutes from start to finish. However, the actual radiation dose on the most modern machines is low, as the scan images are acquired during a heartbeat. Dr Naqvi’s patients are all scanned on the highest quality newest machines.

Does it hurt?

The CT scan is painless but prior to the test, an intravenous cannula (drip) will usually need to be placed. Local anaesthetic cream can be used in children above 1 year of age. Some find numbing cold spray helpful. During the CT scan contrast (dye) will be given via the cannula. This may cause a cold sensation in the arm.

  • No. The test is painless but prior to the test it is likely that a cannula will need to be placed. Contrast (dye) will be given during the CT via the cannula. Some children may feel a cold sensation in their arm of the contrast being given.
DR NAQVI’S TOP TIPS for having a CT scan
  • Try to practice holding your breath before the test.
  • Avoid wearing anything metal eg. a metal zip top as it interferes with the pictures..
  • During the scan y​​ou may get a nice feeling of warmth all over your body – don’t worry this is just the dye moving inside you.
  • You may get an unusual taste in your mouth from the dye. This does not last long. Bring a mint or a sweet to eat after the scan.
  • Watch the videos below.