MRI - Information for Pediatrics

MRI - Information for Pediatrics

How does MRI work?

The MRI machine uses a large magnet, which exerts a magnetic pull against the body’s own internal magnetic field in order to make pictures of the body parts. The machine also uses radio waves of different frequencies. Loud knocking noises similar to a jackhammer are produced while the pictures are being made. These noises are not extremely irritating. At times they are even soothing and earplugs may be worn to muffle the noise. NO RADIATION is used to make the MRI pictures.

Your child will experience no pain during an MRI.

Who will perform the MRI?

A radiologist assisted by a MRI technologist will perform the scan. The radiologist is a doctor with advanced medical training in x-ray and imaging. The radiologist will interpret the results of the scan and inform your child’s doctor. The results of the scan will then be available for you from your child’s doctor.

Where will the scan be done?

The scan is done in the Radiology Department in University Hospital East on the main floor. Report to Radiology Reception on the main floor.  You may park in the garage across the street from the hospital. Bring your parking ticket to the hospital with you. Parking is free. However, your ticket must be validated to qualify for free parking.

How long does the MRI take?

The scan will take 30 to 90 minutes. Preparation and sedation take an additional 60 minutes. The length of time depends upon the part of the body being scanned.

What must be done to get ready for the scan?

If your child is old enough to understand, discuss the scan with him/her. Tell him/her to "lie very still" for a long time for the pictures. Reassure him/her that the scan does not hurt and that you will be able to remain in the room while the pictures are taken.

Children less than 8-9 years old usually have trouble holding still for the scan and require "sedation" medicine. This is not the same as "gas" or general anesthesia. The sedation is a liquid medicine administered by the radiology registered nurse. While the child is sleeping and throughout the procedure, the nurse will monitor heart rate and oxygen level.

If your child requires sedation:

  • Arrive in radiology 1 hour prior to your appointment.
  • DO NOT give children under 6 months of age any milk or formula 3 hours prior to arrival at the hospital.
  • DO NOT give children 6 months to 6 years any milk or food 4 hours prior to arrival at the hospital.
  • DO NOT give children older than 6 years any milk or food 6 hours prior to arrival at the hospital.
  • All age children may have clear liquids (Jell-O Popsicles, Apple Juice, Pedialyte, and Gator Aide) up to 2 hours prior to arrival at the hospital.
  • All age children must have NOTHING BY MOUTH FOR THE LAST 2 HOURS prior to arrival at the hospital.
  • Wake your child up early and keep him/her awake. A sleepy child is easier to sedate than a child who has had a long nap.
  • It is good to bring a 2nd adult along with you to help care for the child following the procedure. If sedation is given, the child will be sleepy on the way home.
  • Leave other children with a sitter. Space is limited in the sedation area and a quiet environment is needed for sedation.

What happens after the scan?

If no sedation is given, the child will be discharged immediately after the scan. If the child does receive sedation, he/she will be monitored until responsive.


For any questions or concerns

Contact the Radiology and Medical Imaging department at 434-924-9400.