Childr Health Information

Magnetic resonance imaging

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Topic: Tests & Procedures

Welcome to Dayton Children’s.  Your child is going to have an MRI.   It is very important for both you and your child to be prepared for the procedure.  Being prepared will help you get your child ready for the test and support him/her through it.
The information in this handout describes the MRI.   It is designed to answer your questions and help you explain the test to your child.  This information does not replace information given to you by your physician or other members of your child’s health care team.
What is MRI?
MRI uses a large magnet, radio waves, and sophisticated computer equipment to produce pictures or images of the human body.  Unlike x-rays or CT Scans, there is no ionizing radiation involved.
What happens during an MRI?
The staff will ask you to answer some questions about your child’s health history before the MRI is done.  This information will help the x-ray doctor, radiologist, evaluate your child’s MRI. 
Sometimes contrast material (dye) will be injected into your child’s vein during part of the MRI.  Contrast material allows the x-ray doctor (radiologist) to get a better picture of your child’s brain or body.  If your child requires contrast, he/she will be taken to a prep room where the IV catheter can be put into his/her vein.   If your child has any medical conditions, allergies, or any previous reaction to contrast, please tell us before your child’s test.
For the MRI, your child will be positioned on a padded table.  The technologist may place a special piece of equipment, called a coil, around the area being imaged.  The table is then moved into the imaging unit and the MRI is started.  During the exam, the technologist will leave the room, but will remain in visual contact with your child at all times and will talk through an intercom system (if your child is awake).
What will my child feel during the MRI? 
The imaging unit does not touch your child.  He/she will not feel the camera taking pictures.  There is a loud knocking sound from time to time as images are gathered.  If your child wishes, and if he/she does not require sedation, we can provide headphones to listen to music or stories during the exam.   It is very important for your child not to move during the test.  We may use blanket wraps and velcro safety belts to position your child.  If your child is unable to hold still, sedation may be required and you will receive additional instructions.  If your child requires an IV catheter for contrast administration, it will feel like a pinch or a poke when it goes through the skin.  When the contrast is administered, some children describe a cold sensation in the extremity where the contrast is being infused.
How can I help prepare my child for the MRI?
When and how to prepare your child for an MRI depends on his/her age.   For infants, no preparation is necessary, as long as you understand the procedure.  Toddlers require very simple preparation and explanation just before the procedure begins.  Older children require more detailed information in advance.  Adolescents should be prepared far enough in advance to give them time to ask questions.
It is important to tell your child what to expect, including the different sensations he/she may feel.  Most children will be concerned about what they will feel throughout the test.  Many ask if it will hurt.  It is always important to be honest with your child.   Resist saying it won’t hurt.  You can say, “Your test might feel uncomfortable for a short time but I will help you get through it.”
Dress your child in clothing that does not contain metal snaps, zippers, or metallic prints.  Sweat pants, sweatshirts, or pajamas are best.  If needed, we have hospital gowns for your child to wear during the MRI.
When you arrive for your appointment, a staff member will discuss the procedure in an age appropriate way with your child.  They will address any concerns that you or your child may have and if necessary help him/her come up with some ways to get through the procedure. At Dayton Children’s, we take these extra steps because our goal is to decrease your child’s anxiety and make this experience as comfortable as possible.
This exam usually lasts from 45-60 minutes for each area of the body being scanned.
How can I help my child during the exam?
Many times the mere presence of a parent or caregiver is enough to soothe a child.  Two parents are welcome in the room where we explain and discuss the test. There are limitations to those we can allow in the actual MRI scanning room.   Any metallic objects and/or persons with certain medical conditions are prohibited.  If  you want to accompany your child into the magnet room, you will need to complete a safety screening form.       Other family members will be asked to wait in our waiting room.  If your child has a special toy or blanket that provides a sense of security to them, please bring the item with you. If your child does not require sedation , you may bring your child’s favorite music or stories on tape or CD for him/her to listen to during the MRI.   Many children benefit from distraction especially during the insertion of the IV catheter.   Taking deep breaths with your child can help relax the body and relieve anxiety.    The staff in MRI may use toys, bubbles, or books to divert your child’s attention.   Some children need to cry when the IV is placed.  Crying is a healthy way of coping because it allows them to express their emotions. 
What happens after the MRI?
There are no restrictions after the exam.  Your child may resume normal activities.  A report will be sent to your referring doctor, usually within a week.
If your child receives contrast and/or a sedative, you will receive additional instruction sheets.  Be sure you know what to do before you leave the radiology department.
For further questions about this test, please call Dayton Children’s Medical Imaging Department:
937-641-3888 or 1-800-228-4055.


Derechos de autor(c) de The Children's Medical Center, ano 1999. Este material unicamente tiene fines educativos. No puede ser reproducido, distribuido ni modificado sin previa autorizacion de The Children's Medical Center of Dayton, One Children's Plaza, Dayton, Ohio, 45404-1815. Llame al 937-641-3666 para solicitar autorizacion o para obtener un juego maestro para copias. Para obtener mas informacion puede visitar (consulte la seccion de informacion legal).

La informacion contenida en este material es unicamente informacion de tipo general. No debe considerarse como completa. Para obtener mas informacion acerca de los complementos para leche materna, por favor pidala a su doctor.
Corregido: 2005

The information contained in this handout is for general information only and should not be considered complete. For specific information about bathing your baby, please ask your doctor or nurse practitioner.

Additional information may be located in the Family Resource Center, 2nd floor, near the Outpatient Surgery Center. Hours of the center vary; please contact the Family Resource Center at 937-641-3700.

Copyright(c) The Children's Medical Center of Dayton. This material is for educational purposes only. It cannot be reproduced or distributed without permission from Dayton Children's.
Revised: 2005


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