Learn About Imaging Tests

Sometimes if you hurt yourself or feel sick, your doctor may ask that you have a painless test to look at your insides.  Below are some pictures and definitions of the types of tests you may have.

If you have any questions about the test, ask your doctor, parent or guardian.  There is no reason to be scared or worried.  The test themselves don’t hurt and many times you may even get some medicine to help you relax.  You might even get to listen to music.

Before the test

These maybe some questions you are thinking about:

  1. What test am I having and what will it be like?  Be sure to ask your doctor and/or your parent or guardian.
  2. Can I eat and drink before my test?  Your doctor will let you know.
  3. How long will the test take?  Some tests, like X-Rays take only minutes while MRIs and CTs may take longer.
  4. Does it matter that I am allergic to things like shellfish?  Yes, please remind your parent or guardian to tell your doctor all that you are allergic to.
  5. Can I wear my lucky necklace?  No, you should leave all jewelry and metal at home.  Wearing them could make the pictures blurry.  If you have dental braces, that should not be a problem, but be sure to remind them of any metal you have on or in your body.
  6. How can they help me not be so nervous?  Understanding all the steps of the test helps but they may also give you medicine to help you feel relaxed and sleepy.
  7. I heard I might need “Contrast”.  What is that?  Your doctor may order “contrast” during your test.  Contrast highlights certain parts of your body better than without it. It is a liquid given to you through a drink or an IV.    Do not be scared if they first take pictures without contrast and then add contrast.  It does not hurt.  It can make you feel cold in the area where they put it into your IV, like in your arm.  You may have a taste of metal in your mouth.  Don’t worry. The taste will go away right after your test.

During the Test

  1. Someone will help you get onto the test table or tell you where to sit.
  2. If you are cold, they may give you a blanket.
  3. If you have an MRI or CT, the table your are lying on will be slid into the opening of the machine.  If you are having an X-Ray, it will depend on what part of the body they are looking at.  Some X-Rays are even taken when you are standing up!
  4. The person giving you the test will either step behind a wall or go into another room and talk to you through an intercom.
  5. You may be given something to help you fall asleep or told to lay very still
  6. Your parent or guardian might be in the room with you or in the room with the person giving you the test.
  7. For MRI tests, your may hear noise from the machine.   Don’t be scared.  It is normal to hear the noise. They may even give you headphones to block the noise.
  8. The tests do not hurt but if you start to feel like you have a headache, feel nauseas or dizzy, let the person doing the test know right away.

After the Test

  1. After the test, you will get off the table or stand up from the chair you are sitting in.
  2. If they gave you something to sleep, you might wake up in a different room from your test.  Your parent or guardian will likely be there with you.
  3. Great job!  You’re done and you should be ready to go home!


CT Scan

CT Machine A CT scan takes many pictures of your body and puts them together to make one big picture in 3D. Sometimes the doctors might ask you to drink a liquid (called contrast) or put the liquid in you through an IV so they can see the picture better.

Scan Results

CT of Brain CT of Brain


MRI Machine An MRI machine uses magnetic and radio waves to take pictures of your body.  Sometimes the doctors might ask you to drink a liquid (called contrast) or put the liquid in you through an IV so they can see the picture better. The MR machine can be loud and noisy.

Scan Results

MR of Neck MR of Brain


X-ray Machine An X-ray is like a big camera that can take black and white pictures of the inside of your body.

X-ray Results

X-ray of Hand X-ray of Chest