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Commonly Asked Questions About MRIs: What Do I Need To Know?

With a staff of over 28 fellowship-trained, board-certified subspecialty pediatric radiologists, Texas Children’s Hospital is the largest full-service pediatric radiology group in the country. Using the most up-to-date, technological imaging advances, pediatric radiology performs nearly 200,000 procedures annually. Our expert team is specially trained to work with the specific needs of children in a family friendly environment. And with each family that we help, we receive a lot of questions, which is why I wanted to answer some of the most common questions regarding MRIs:

What Is An MRI?

MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. An MRI is a radiology technique that uses magnetism to take detailed images of the inside of your body. It provides valuable information that can assist in disease detection or determine the serverity of various injuries. The MRI does not use radiation and has few known side effects.

What Can My Child Expect?

Your child will be positioned on the MRI table according to what type of scan he or she will have. Once positioned, the table will move inside the scanner’s tunnel. The scanner is open on both ends; it may feel close, but it will not touch them. Children are required to lie still inside the MRI scanner for the duration of the exam. Depending on the exam ordered, this scan can be anywhere from 15 minutes to 90 minutes. Any movement can make the picture blurry.

The scanner makes loud noises while it is taking the pictures. I have been told it sounds like shoes in the dryer, however, Texas Children’s Radiology Department offers video goggles designed specifically to assist MRI patients with minimizing noise, claustrophobia and anxiety. Children can pick a movie of their choice to watch during the MRI procedure. With the use of video goggles, 40% of MRI exams are performed without sedation.

Additionally, our child life specialists help children cope with stress and anxiety often experienced before and during radiology procedures through education, explanation and a personal connection. During the procedure, they can provide support with coaching and distraction tailored to a child’s developmental level to complete the study without the need for sedation. Learn more about how our child life specialists are using wall murals to provide that distraction, here.

What Else Do I Need To Know?

  • It is helpful for you to let the staff in the radiology department know of any metals in your child’s body which includes but is not limited to dental work, shunts, pacemakers, or any objects inserted surgically.
  • Here at Texas Children’s we allow parents to accompany their child into the MRI room if the child is not sedated, provided there’s no potential of risk to the parent.
  • Wear comfortable clothes that do not contain metal, including no metal snaps, zippers or glitter.
  • Bring a comfort item like a blanket or stuffed animal for your child.
  • Arrive on time. We ask that you arrive 90 minutes early to prepare for the appointment.
  • Depending on the type of MRI, your child may need an IV for contrast. Contrast medication is a special medicine that helps certain body parts show up better on the scan.
  • Watch the preparation video and visit our blog for more information on our radiology department.
  • Learn more about preparing your child for a MRI (En Español).

For more information on Texas Children’s Radiology Department, visit here.

Gillian Evans, Nurse Manager, Department of Radiology