What to Know Before Your Child Gets an MRI

Guest Blogger, Dixie Somers 

Your child means everything to you. Taking them to get an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) can leave you with a lot of questions. Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do to make the process go as smoothly as possible for them, and for you.

Understand What’s Happening

An MRI is a non-invasive procedure used to diagnose illnesses and injuries. Using strong magnets and radio-frequency bursts, computers can put together detailed and accurate images of the insides of your child’s body. Most MRIs only take 15 minutes, depending on the range of imaging needed.

Because of the powerful magnetic field involved, you will need to make sure your child does not have a number of common metal or electronic items with them before the procedure begins. Your MRI technician will help with this, but these are a few to keep in mind before you begin:

  • Jewelry, hairpins, dental work that can be taken out, glasses, piercings
  • Zippers and other bits of metal, cards, hearing aids, pacemakers, or other metal implants from surgery

When the time comes, your child will be guided to a large room with the MRI machine in the center, and placed on a table with movable parts and strapped in if necessary. During the scan, they need to stay completely still.

A circular section of the machine runs up and down your child’s body, scanning it to build the images doctors will examine. While noisy, the procedure does not hurt. Keep in mind that the doctor may call for an intravenous solution to be injected into your child’s arm. This solution provides contrast for the MRI scans and may help produce a clearer image.

Talking to the Doctor

Make sure you’re communicating with your child’s doctor. Let them know about any recent medical concerns, like allergies, medication, or surgeries, especially if a device is surgically implanted in your child. If your child has been sick recently or is becoming sick prior to the MRI, let the doctor know. Being sick means the child won’t be able to receive anesthesia if they may require it due to anxiety or claustrophobic feelings during the scan.

Don’t Get Overwhelmed

Pediatric physicians and surgeons have to train for almost a decade before they’re ready, and that’s the minimum time. That means your child will be in good hands throughout the experience. As long as anesthesia isn’t being administered, you can be allowed to be there with your child during the procedure. You won’t be able to be in the actual room, but an adjoining viewing room will be available.

Throughout the whole process, you’ll be able to talk to and communicate with your child. You’ll have to wear a gown and complete a screening form for safety, but the comfort you’ll be able to provide to your child is invaluable.

Know that while it can be overwhelming at first, an MRI is a safe, reliable, and non-painful scan that can provide helpful information for your child’s health. Reassure them that they will be taken care of and that you will be there every step of the way. Knowing what they have in store is half the battle, so do your best to understand what will come so you can help them along the way.

Helping Kids Learn About Their Body: “Blood Soup” Spotlight and Giveaway

Child life specialists incorporate play, art, and books to teach kids about their bodies. Many specialists have used an activity called, blood soup to educate and empower kids about their cancer treatment. I was excited to find out that a fellow child life specialist created a storybook to go along with this activity.

Guest Blogger, Jessica Wilfore, CCLS, Author of Blood Soup 

Blood Soup is a dynamic and hands-on educational experience for all children! Readers will be engaged from start to finish, learning of the four components of blood and the reasoning behind a blood draw. Blood Soup empowers children to know more about their bodies and helps take the fear out of blood.

Where to Purchase

Blood Soup is available for purchase at Lulu.com.

About the Author

Jessica Wilfore, MS-Ed, CCLS is a Certified Child Life Specialist, educator, and mother who has worked in the hospital setting for several years helping children understand procedures and diagnosis in a developmentally appropriate manner.  She believes that the more children know, the better they can respond. She encourages the use of this book for all children but specifically for those with an upcoming blood draw or new diagnosis (cancer, diabetes, bleeding disorders).

We will be giving away a copy of “Blood Soup” to one lucky winner.

Choose one or more ways to enter:

  1. Sign up for email notifications at ChildLifeMommy.com and leave a comment below.
  2. Facebook: Follow Child Life Mommy and tag a friend
  3. Facebook: Follow Blood Soup Book
  4. Instagram: Follow @ChildLifeMommy and tag two friends in the post.
  5. Twitter: Follow, Like, and RT the post to @ChildLifeMommy

Good luck, the winner will be chosen by 4/15/21. Open to U.S. and Canada residents.

Tips to Support a Child Receiving Stitches

The first set of stitches is in the books for my little guy, Blake.  After I tossed him in a pond our giant lab, Tank leaped right on top of him. His paw hit Blake’s face and punctured his lip. Both of my kids freaked out. I mean full on tears and a hard time breathing. Blake went limp like a ragdoll, puked before we got him in the car, and then fell asleep from exhaustion. He was at a level 10 for anxiety. We had a 2-hour drive to urgent care, so it gave us time to regroup and calm down.

Here is what we did to make the situation go from high anxiety with pain and trauma to a successful procedure.
  1. I stayed calm. I lowered my voice, made good eye contact, and reminded him that this was my job.
  2. I prepared him for what he would experience. I gave him lots of details and cleared up misconceptions.
    I talked about his job of keeping his body still and breathing. I explained that stitches are string bandaids and that the doctor will numb the area so that he wouldn’t feel it.
  3. I validated his emotions and provided reassurance. “You are so scared right now. I will be there to help you.”
  4. Advocacy. This was a big one for me. I advocated for topical numbing cream which the doctor was hesitant on but then agreed. I knew it would decrease the pain from the lidocaine injection.
  5. Comfort hold. There was a papoose board in the trauma room and B asked what it was. Every meme that The iPad Lady has posted went through my head. There was no way they were going to use that. He was able to lay directly on my chest in a position for comfort.
  6. Distraction. I held up my phone so B could watch a movie during the procedure.
  7. Choices. I gave him as many choices as I could.
  8.  ONE VOICE. When he was getting the stitches it was just the doctor and us, no other team members. Everyone was super calm, the doctor would talk to him about what he was doing before he did it.
  9.  Procedural Support. I named things that he was doing great on, slow deep breaths & keeping his body still.
  10.  Bravery Reward. Yes, he got ice cream and chose a small toy for being so brave.

Highlights: The doctor said,” Good idea Mom on the numbing cream.” ❤️

You can continue to help kids process their experiences and feel empowerment when you ask them to share their stories. It could be done through medical play, art, journaling, or verbaling telling you.


Related Articles:

Medical Play 

5 Tips to Help Your Child at The Doctor 

How to Pack an Emergency Go Bag