MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)

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Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a method of examining the inside of the body. The MRI machine is a large magnet that surrounds the body. It uses magnetic fields and radio frequencies instead of X-rays to produce images. The patient is not exposed to radiation during this exam.

What to Bring for the Test

Have your child bring a favorite cuddling toy or blanket to keep with him during the test. (The toy may not have any metal in or on it.)

Before the Test

  • Clothing -  Dress your child in comfortable clothes that will be easy to remove. For safety, children are asked to change out of their clothes and into clothes the hospital will give you (like hospital gowns, pants and shorts). Anything that contains metal (such as hairpins, watches or jewelry) or any body piercing must be removed. Metal can affect the test. Tell the technologist if your child has any tattoos or uses a medicine patch.
  • Medicines - On the day of the MRI scan, the patient should NOT take any medicine meant specifically to calm his or her worries about the MRI or make him or her sleepy for the exam. Please call the Radiology Nurses with questions at (614) 722-2624.
  • Prescription Medications - Give your child his or her other usual prescription medicines.
  • If your child uses a medication patch, remove the patch before the test, put the sticky sides together, and flush it down the toilet. If there is any gel on the skin, wipe it off before going into the MRI. After the test, replace the patch with a new one.

How the Test is Done

A child having an MRI test done

If your child is not having anesthesia, one parent may stay with him or her in the MRI room while the test is being done. If you would like to stay with your child during the test, please tell the technologist.

A technologist or RN will come and get you and your child from the waiting room, and take you to the MRI area.

For the safety of you and your child:

  • All metal and jewelry must be taken off before entering the MRI area. There will be lockers to secure your belongings.

  • The technologist will then take you and your child through a metal detector and into the MRI room.

  • Next, the technologist will have your child lie on the MRI table. The table will be moved so that your child's body is inside the opening of the part where the magnet is (Picture 1). If your child is not having anesthesia, it is important for him or her to hold very still during the test. When a patient moves too much, it may take longer to finish the test and get a quality scan. Sometimes, a form of “sleepy medicine” is necessary to complete the test. If the MRI exam is not scheduled with anesthesia, this may involve coming back on a different day.

  • Your child will be given earplugs to wear or a set of headphones to listen to music. Your child will not have any pain with this test, but will hear a sound like a loud tapping or hammering. During some tests, your child might also be able to watch a movie. The technologist will let you know if this is possible.

  • Your child’s doctor may ask that the child be given a contrast solution during the test so the scan can pick up more information. If so, an IV will be started and the contrast solution will be put in the IV. The technologist will be outside the room during the test but will be able to see and hear your child. Depending on the type of test your child is having, the exam may take 20 to 90 minutes to complete.

After The Test

  • If an IV was placed for contrast solution, it will be removed after the test is finished.

  • A report of the test results will be sent to your child's doctor. When the doctor gets the results, he or she will explain the test to you.

If you have any questions, be sure to ask your doctor, nurse or technologist, or call 614-722-6200.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (PDF)

HH-III-69                8/86, Revised 04/19 | Copyright 1986, Nationwide Children’s Hospital