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.

“The Donut That Roared: A Child’s Guide To Surviving an MRI” Spotlight and Giveaway

I am thrilled to feature the co-author, Joan Yordy Brasher and her recently published children’s book, The Donut That Roared. This is a must-have book for any child life program, radiology department or parent of a child with a chronic illness.

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