Tips for Pediatric MRI

Tips for Pediatric MRIs

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is an imaging technique that uses a powerful magnet and radio waves to produce unparalleled images of internal body structures – especially the soft tissues (such as muscles, cartilage, tendons, and blood vessels). Pediatric MRI can aid your child’s physician in diagnosing a myriad of disorders and injuries in their early stages, so your little one can get on the road to recovery, faster

Although there are a lot of benefits to MRIs, children can be intimated by the experience, especially if it’s their first time. Here are a few ways you can help your child have the best MRI experience with as few hiccups as possible.

MRI Simulators

While most imaging exams are quick and painless, pediatric patients sometimes need sedation to remain still and follow instructions throughout an exam. Some centers require children under 8 to undergo sedation so it’s best to discuss with your child’s doctor and or technician about your preferences and options. Before the exam, it is a good idea to assess whether a child will require it and one way to do that is through an MRI simulator, which can come in different forms. The newest iteration provides a play-based simulation of the full MRI experience, including a motion sensor and noise simulation. “It gives kids — even if they are going through sedation — skills to cope with the imaging, and it gives the parents more information about what the process entails,” said Elisabeth O’Dwyer, MBBCh. Simulators are recommended for pediatric patients between 4-7 may use the stimulator unless they have developmental delays. 


Another approach to play-based MRI simulation that is gaining in popularity makes use of one of the world’s most popular (and easily accessible) children’s toys — Legos. Benjamin Taragin, M.D., a radiologist at the Montefiore Medical Center, the University Hospital for Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, and a board member of the Society for Pediatric Radiology, first constructed a Lego MRI scanner with his son. 

“As we were working with the Lego pieces, I came across a curved semicircular piece and realized that it reminded me of the bore opening of an MRI,” Taragin said in a blog post for the European Society of Radiology on the project. “With that thought in my head, my son and I began to build our initial Lego MRI model. After building it, I realized that this might actually be useful for our child life division at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore.” Eventually, he connected with a Lego-certified professional who helped develop the final version. “My ultimate goal was to use a Lego-centered approach including a Lego movie about a Lego person who gets injured and needs an MRI,” Taragin told ITN. Using Legos and other similar building toys helps children demystify the MRI machine and helps them associate it with something fun and familiar.

Mobile Apps and Videos

When it comes to interacting with children, there are few better ways to reach out than through technology. A study published in October by the nonprofit group Common Sense Media found the amount of time children aged 8 and younger spend staring at a mobile screen has more than tripled in the last four years, and 42 percent of that age bracket have their own tablet device, compared to just 7 percent in 2013.

“Virtual Reality MRI” for iOS and Android devices is an app that shows 360° videos of the MRI process. On the app, patients can:

  ● Undergo a virtual 360° MRI scan, complete with realistic sounds

  ● Conduct their own scan of a virtual item

  ● Learn the steps of the exam process, from referral to results, and have any questions answered. 

Apps like these are sure to create some comfortability with scans with tech-savvy patients by providing important information in a familiar way. 

Virtual Reality MRI

YouTube is also a great resource for educational and kid-friendly videos about MRIs. We suggest this one from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. 

Parental Presence

Despite medicine’s best efforts, nothing can replace the comfort of a loved one. Most centers allow one parent or guardian to stay in the MRI room with the child until the test begins, and some permit them to stay throughout the test. If they don’t stay in the room, they can join the technician in an adjacent room or be asked to stay in a waiting room. If they’re nearby, they’ll be able to watch through a window and talk to your child through an intercom during breaks between scans. This can soothe the child if he or she is awake in the MRI machine. To book an MRI, visit us at Medmo helps people schedule radiology imaging tests – such as MRI, CT scans, PET, and more – at nearby accredited centers and identify the payment solution that works best for them.


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