Preparing Your Child for a MRI
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On this page, you will find information to share with your child about getting a MRI, written in terms Child Life Specialists believe children can easily understand.
What is an MRI?
- MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. These scans take pictures of different parts of the body.
Why it's important to have one:
- "The doctors want to take some pictures of (specific body part) to help see what might be making you feel bad, hurt, etc."
Your job during the MRI:
- It is very important to hold still so that the pictures come out clear.
What happens when having an MRI? Information to share with your child...
- If you are coming from home for your MRI you will wait in the waiting room and then walk or ride in a wheelchair to the MRI camera.
- If you already staying at the hospital, you will go to MRI in a wheelchair or on a bed with wheels.
- When you get to the room where your pictures will be taken, the nurse will help move you to the bed that slides in and out of the MRI camera.
- The camera looks like a big doughnut with a hole or open space in the middle. Some kids say the camera looks like a spaceship.
- The bed will slide into the hole or open space, when it is time for your pictures.
- The bed sometimes has a cloth seatbelt, just like in a car, to keep you safe.
- Having your pictures taken will not hurt and nothing will touch you.
- An MRI will usually take about 30-45 minutes. The MRI camera makes a loud noise when it takes pictures. Some kids say it sounds like a jackhammer or really loud buzzing. There are headphones that you can listen to music with, to help with the noise.
- You may need to drink some special medicine called contrast. This medicine helps your doctor see the pictures of your body better that the camera took.
- The special medicine or contrast may also be given through an IV.
- Since an MRI camera uses magnets, you will need to remove all metal from your body (jewelry, hairclips, etc.) before you go into the MRI room.
- Sometimes a parent can stay with you during the MRI.
- The radiology technologist taking the pictures will be able to see you and talk to you during the procedure.
Things that can help when having an MRI:
- Listening to music
- Using your imagination: think about being in a castle, in outer space, or at the beach
- Discussing what will be helpful to you and your child