What Parents Should Know About MRI Scans For Children

An MRI scan is a medical procedure used to diagnose medical conditions, especially neurological ones. An MRI scanner uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves to produce images of the internal organs. This process provides detailed views of the inside of the body, allowing doctors to examine areas that may be inaccessible through other forms of imaging.

MRI scanner


For parents who have children who need MRI scans, you may have many questions regarding how your child will be affected during the diagnostic process and how you should be preparing your child for an MRI scan. In this article, let's review some important information parents should know about MRIs for children.

1) MRI machines can be deafening for children


Many kids consider the loud noises coming from an MRI machine uncomfortable or painful to bear. Fortunately, some measures can be put into place to reduce the volume of the sounds and keep them safe and comfortable during examinations.

The most common way to minimize noise exposure and manage volume levels is ear protection. Earplugs or headphones which cover your child's ears may be provided by your physician or medical care team so they can endure a scan without discomfort. In some cases, it may also be possible for your child to listen to music while they remain within the scanner.

2) Some children experience claustrophobia during MRIs

While many children have no problems going into the MRI machine, some experience claustrophobia or fear of being in closed spaces. If your child has had an MRI before and they have been unable to complete it, make sure you let your physician know when scheduling an appointment. In some cases, your doctor may be willing to perform a scan with special positioning or take care when moving them in and out of the enclosed scanner tube. They could also recommend another type of imaging that doesn't require entering a scanner tube.

3) MRIs can take a long time to complete


Most MRI scans take between 15 and 90 minutes to complete or can be more than that, depending on the number of images needed and the part of the body scanned. Medical professionals will be able to tell you exactly how long an MRI for children takes based on the specific procedure they need to be done.

For kids who are unable to stay still for long periods, an MRI scan may be very challenging because MRI scanners are very sensitive to people who can't stay still. Because of this, your doctor may prescribe medications, like sedatives, to help reduce kids' anxiety and keep them calm during the imaging process.

4) The child might feel unwell after the MRI scan

Most kids enjoy running around and exploring open fields. Thus, they might feel lightheaded or dizzy after exiting the machine. This is because they are not used to being in a closed, dark space for an extended period.

If your child complains after an MRI scan or seems disoriented when coming out of the scanner, give them some time before they are allowed to go back into strenuous activities. They may also benefit from having something small to eat and drink, like a snack bar or juice box, which can help re-energize their body after being inside the scanner.

5) Children who have metal implants cannot have MRIs

When undergoing any medical imaging procedure, the patient must be free of metal implants when entering the machine. This includes things like shrapnel, pacemakers, surgical screws, plates, coils, or any metallic object that may interfere with the technology of an MRI machine.

If your child has metal implants in their body, let the medical professional know before they start the scan. They can then advise you on how to proceed, whether or not the implant is MRI-compatible, and if they can do the imaging process with the implant intact or if it needs to be surgically removed beforehand.

6) The benefits of MRI scans are far greater than the risks

MRIs are safe for children. Any medical procedure carries along with it some risks. However, the risks involved with MRIs can be avoided if enough care is taken. Prior consultations with your healthcare professional can also help mitigate the risks involved.

7) Preparing for the scan


To make sure your child has a positive experience when undergoing an MRI, talk to your local radiology office beforehand about any questions you have regarding how they operate the equipment and what you can expect from your child's time there. It would also be best to understand what safety precautions they take because rare events may occasionally require emergency action.

Another important thing is to talk to your child about the upcoming medical procedure. Ensure they understand what will happen when it'll happen, and if any special preparation needs to be done beforehand. This can help reduce their anxiety during the medical scan.

*This post is for information purposes only it does not offer medical advice. 

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