Cardiac CT

What is a cardiac CT scan?

A cardiac CT (computed tomography) scan is a test that uses x-rays to create detailed images of your child's heart and blood vessels inside the heart. A CT scan produces many pictures in two-dimensional "slices." These slices are then compiled into detailed 3-D images of the heart that can be studied from all angles.

When is cardiac CT used?

Your child’s cardiologist may order a CT scan to diagnose certain heart conditions. It is often used when an ultrasound can’t show necessary detail in the heart or for children who can’t have an MRI because they have a pacemaker or defibrillator or can’t be sedated. Although some children are sedated for a CT scan, the test doesn’t always require sedation.

What happens during a cardiac CT scan?

A CT technologist will position and secure your child on a movable table that slides into and out of the CT scanner. Small patches, called electrodes, are attached to your child’s chest. These electrodes record the heart's electrical activity. Once your child is inside the CT scanner, an x-ray beam will rotate around your child, taking pictures.

In order to capture accurate images, your child must be still during the CT scan. Movement can cause blurry images. Your child may need to hold their breath for short amounts of time. The scan usually takes about 10 minutes.

Our expertise in cardiac CT

Our specialists in the Boston Children’s Division of Cardiac Imaging perform about 300 examinations a year using advanced dual-source CT scanners. This technology delivers stunning image quality with lower x-ray doses than previously available.

Our team also offers expertise in all imaging modalities, including:

We ensure that each patient receives the right test at the right time with the right technique. No matter what type of imaging test your child is having, our team specializes in kid-friendly care. All our clinicians are experienced in working with children and know how to make them feel comfortable during any type of imaging process.