MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)

The MRI is a way to take pictures of the body using a large magnet, radio waves, and a computer. The MRI does not use radiation and no side effects have been reported from being in the magnetic field. 

The MRI scanner is a large magnet with a circle-shaped opening.  Some people say it looks like a tunnel. 

There is a table that moves into the opening of the scanner during the test and the patient may hear a series of very loud noises such as hums, knocks, beeps, and clicks.  These are normal sounds of the scanner. 

The technologist will be able to talk with your child and tell him when the noises will occur and how long the sounds will last.  Parents are welcome in the scan room if the child is awake. 

The scanner does not touch or hurt the patient, however if an IV is required for contrast, minimal pain may occur during IV insertion. Contrast is a dye given to enhance the pictures.

The entire exam may take from 60-120 minutes depending on the body part being scanned.  Your child must hold still for each series of pictures that are three to eight minutes long. Your child may be able to wiggle slightly in between pictures. 

If your child cannot hold still, it may be necessary to schedule the appointment with anesthesia or sedation. 

Patients scheduled to be awake for the procedure may bring in a DVD or a music CD to watch or listen to during the MR procedure.  We also have a large selection of DVDs from which your child can choose.

It is best to dress your child in comfortable clothes that are free of metal (zippers, eyelets, buttons).  A gown may be provided if clothing interferes with the pictures.  All metal and magnetic objects must be kept outside the room, including keys, jewelry, credit cards, beepers, cell phones, and portable computers.  A personal locker will be provided for these items. 

If the patient is scheduled with anesthesia or sedation an anesthesia imaging nurse will contact you with preparation instructions.  These must be followed carefully.

If the patient is not scheduled with sedation or anesthesia they may be asked to not eat four hours or drink two hours before the appointment.   

Radiology staff will ask you to fill out some forms asking about allergies, medications, possibility of pregnancy, surgery, and any implanted metal objects. 

Without sedation or anesthesia, your child should be able to resume normal activities immediately, unless your child’s physician instructs you otherwise.

The results are sent to the ordering doctor within 24-48 hours after the scan has been completed. Your child’s physician will then discuss the findings with you.  


Last Updated 01/2011