MRI Airway (Sleep) Study

MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging. An MRI uses a powerful magnet, radio waves and computer to acquire pictures of just about any body part, including your child's airway.

Airway MRIs are ordered if your child is having airway problems and breathing difficulties that occur during sleep. An MRI will take pictures of the throat, nose and mouth while your child is sleeping.

The Department of Anesthesia provides general anesthesia for children who have airway problems and breathing difficulties that occur during sleep. Anesthesiologists focus on keeping the airway safe, keeping your child from moving during the procedure and aiding in a rapid recovery from anesthesia, with minimal side effects.

Consent must be obtained from the child's parent or legal guardian before services are rendered. If the parent or legal guardian is unable to attend the appointment, you must bring a phone number where they may be reached at the time of the appointment. If we are unable to reach the parent or legal guardian for consent, the child will not be seen.  

You will be given a special set of eating and drinking instructions when scheduling the procedure. You should receive a phone call to confirm your appointment 24 to 48 hours prior to the MRI exam. A packet of information will be mailed to your home prior to your appointment date. Please be sure to read the packet of information carefully.

If your child is on medications ordered by a doctor, give them at their scheduled time with only a sip of water or a teaspoon of Jell-O.

Your child will be assessed and prepared for the procedure. You will be asked questions about your child's medical history, allergies, current medications, previous anesthetic experience and current health status.

General anesthesia is typically given by having your child breathe anesthetic gas through a mask. In older children, anesthesia may be given through an IV. An anesthesiologist will maintain the anesthetics by a mask or an IV.

Anesthesia professionals will monitor your child closely during the test. Doctors and nurses will monitor and check the heart's activity, blood pressure and oxygen levels and observe the airway. 

The MRI machine is a large magnet. Therefore, dress your child in comfortable clothing with no metal snaps or zippers. Your child's metal hair barrettes, hair pins and earrings must be removed prior to the test.

The MRI machine is a large magnet that is in the shape of a tunnel. When your child is sleeping under general anesthesia he/she will lie on his/her back on a table in the center of the tunnel. An MRI technologist will take pictures of your child's nose, throat and mouth.

It is possible that during the procedure your child may experience some discomfort. A doctor and nurse will interrupt the test if it is necessary.

The imaging part of the test takes about 60 minutes to complete. You will be asked to stay in the waiting room while the test is being done.

When the MRI pictures are complete, your child will lie on the table asleep while a radiologist checks to make sure there are enough pictures. Sometimes additional pictures are needed (this may take about 10-15 minutes).

After the test is complete your child will go to the Radiology Recovery Room. Your child will remain in the recovery room until they meet the radiology discharge criteria. The nurse or doctor will give you special instructions when you leave. Your child's doctor will notify you of the test results.

If you would like help explaining this procedure to your child, or if you have questions or concerns regarding how to best support your child during this procedure, contact our Child Life specialist, 513-636-2487.


Last Updated 06/2012